The SF Planning Department this week unveiled its final design for pedestrian improvements on a stretch of Broadway in Chinatown.
The design, which was narrowed down through an extensive community planning process, would add sidewalk extensions, crosswalk improvements, trees, seating, lighting, and bike sharrows between the Broadway Tunnel and Columbus Avenue.
The plan [PDF] would not reduce any of the four traffic lanes or include bike lanes, as was originally proposed in other design options, but those changes could still come in the future. Lily Langlois, the lead planner on the project, said workshop participants showed little support for bike lanes until substantial bike improvements are made in the frightening Broadway Tunnel, which would most likely require re-purposing a tunnel lane for bicycles in each direction. (A bike-activated beacon signal was installed, then upgraded, by the SFMTA, but few, if any, bicyclists seem comforted by it.) She said the real estate for conventional bike lanes outside of the tunnel could come from a westbound traffic lane, though the bulb-outs seem to make a potential protected bike lane more difficult to implement.
Also dropped from an earlier proposal was a pedestrian scramble at Stockton. Langlois said staff determined that the intersection was too wide for a scramble, but that corner bulb-outs should sufficiently reduce crossing distances, which she said was the primary concern at the intersection voiced by participants.
The improvements in the current project are expected to create a more welcoming environment for people on the three blocks of Broadway between the east opening of the tunnel and Columbus Avenue. The project is the fourth and final phase of a 20-year effort to improve Broadway following the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway. The intent is to make the street “a destination, as opposed to a freeway connector, and a place to pass through,” said Deland Chan, senior planner at the Chinatown Community Development Center.
Two other phases have already been implemented between Battery and Montgomery (in 2005) and between Grant and Kearny (in 2008). The third phase, between Kearny and Montgomery, is under construction this year.
Over 70 people attended the celebratory open house this week, said Chan, including D3 Supervisor David Chiu, Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, and Planning Director John Rahaim.
The planning department still needs to find funding for this phase and couldn’t pinpoint a timeline for construction. However, the Prop B street improvements bond and the One Bay Area Grant are the primary options for funding.