Construction of a red contra-flow bus-only lane and pedestrian safety upgrades at the hairy intersection of Market, Haight, and Gough Streets is on track to begin in January and be completed next summer, according to the SFMTA. The plan to create a more direct route for riders on Muni’s 71-Haight/Noriega and 6-Parnassus lines, approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors two years ago, is expected to come along with sidewalk bulb-outs, pedestrian refuges, and new greenery.
Currently, standing on the intersection’s northern pedestrian island to cross makes you “feel like a total loser,” said neighborhood advocate Robin Levitt at a meeting last night of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, where residents seemed to welcome the project.
The pedestrian safety improvements were rolled into the two-way Haight project along with sewer work, which adds to the seven-month construction period. SFMTA staffers said the 71, 6, and F-Market lines are expected to be temporarily re-routed during that time.
HVNA also suggested some adjustments to the plans to expand sidewalks and pedestrian islands, such as adding a bulb-out on the narrow east corner of Gough instead of the west corner, and moving the car parking lane to the east side to add protection for pedestrians. An HVNA sketch submitted to the SFMTA also included shifting the pedestrian island further to the west to make more room for passing buses. SFMTA staff said that bulb-out adjustments could be made with approval at a public hearing.
Even though all car parking will be removed on the south side of Haight’s easternmost block, there will actually be a net gain of four parking spaces in the area because, with a more direct bus route, several stops will be removed and re-purposed for parking. Jason Henderson, HVNA’s Transportation and Planning Committee chair, says those spots should instead be removed from Page Street between Buchanan and Octavia, where eastbound bicycle commuters must typically squeeze between long lines of drivers waiting to turn on to the Central Freeway. “The bus stops should not be given over to parking,” he said.
One of Gough’s four lanes should also be removed to make the intersection safer, said Henderson. “This area is a mess because the cars jogging from Valencia to Franklin, etc. This two block stretch of Market needs to be re-made. This is a very small part of something bigger.”
Levitt, who praised the benefits for transit riders, lamented that in the project’s eight years of planning, the SFMTA couldn’t find a way to provide a better way for pedestrians to cross the intersection than standing on a traffic island while heavy car traffic passes on both sides. “There’s no reason pedestrians should be subject to something like that,” he said. “It’s a big disappointment.”