Creating a Safer “Green Gateway” at Valencia and Mission Streets

A vision for Valencia Street's south end at Mission Street, where two right-turn lanes would be converted into stormwater-absorbing plaza. Image: SFPUC

A chunk of roadway at Valencia and Mission Streets would be reclaimed to create a plaza designed to make the corner more pedestrian-friendly and absorb stormwater under a project led by the SF Public Utilities Commission.

The Valencia and Mission Green Gateway Project would widen sidewalks and add greenery and permeable pavement treatments along the southernmost block of Valencia, between Mission and Duncan Street, where it also intersects with the Tiffany Avenue bike boulevard.

Under designs presented by the SFPUC, the SFMTA, the Department of Public Works, and the SF Planning Department at an open house yesterday, the two right-turn traffic lanes on southbound Valencia at Mission would be converted to the permeable plaza, shortening a long crosswalk that currently crosses five lanes. The sidewalk would be expanded out to the existing refuge island.

“We’re making traffic make more sense,” said Raphael Garcia, project manager for the SFPUC.

The southbound end of Valencia would get a narrowed roadway, but an extension of the Valencia bike lane to Mission shown on an initial rendering for the project won’t be included, because that block is not part of an official bike route, according to Adam Gubser, a planner at the SFMTA’s Livable Streets subdivision. Instead, the block will retain two southbound traffic lanes so that Muni buses on the 36-Teresita line, which make a right turn there, aren’t delayed by car traffic waiting to turn, he said. Parallel parking spaces on the east side of the block would also be converted to back-in angled parking spaces to minimize parking removal. Altogether, ten parking spots would be removed for the project.

The green bike lane in this initial rendering won't be included in the project. Image: SFPUC

The official bike route instead directs Valencia bicycle riders west onto Tiffany, a designated bicycle boulevard, to connect to bike lanes on San Jose Avenue via 29th Street. The project would include greening and traffic calming improvements along Tiffany and 29th, he said, and the existing traffic diversion islands at Valencia and Tiffany would be adjusted to create an easier egress for bike traffic.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition, said the organization is “very excited” about the proposed improvements. “By including Tiffany Street and 29th Street, the city has the opportunity to create another neighborhood greenway stretching from the forthcoming Cesar Chavez green bike lanes to an improved San Jose Avenue,” she said.

Gubser said residents on Tiffany have also launched a petition to convert their street from two-way traffic to one-way, with bicycles allowed in both directions. If a majority of residents sign the petition, he said, the conversion could be included in the project.

A one-way Tiffany “will reduce car traffic and make the neighborhood safer for everyone,” said Shahum. “We look forward to seeing the city’s proposals in the fall.”

Construction on the project is expected to take place through most of 2015.