Preview the Upgrades Coming to the Castro’s Jane Warner Plaza

Jane Warner Plaza, seen here in 2011. Photo: Mike Bjork/Flickr

Jane Warner Plaza, the first plaza created using semi-permanent features as part of SF’s Pavement to Parks program, will get some repairs and upgrades as part of the Castro Street overhaul currently underway.

Upgrades coming to Jane Warner Plaza at 17th, Castro, and Market Streets. Image: DPW

The worn-out painted asphalt will be replaced with an easier-to-wash colored asphalt, and a pedestrian island will allow a more direct link between the Market and Castro Street crosswalks, said Department of Public Works project manager John Dennis. Bollards will also be placed outside the potted planters that currently separate the plaza from the roadway, and the metal barricades placed at the plaza’s east end on 17th Street will be replaced with permanent gates.

The streamlined crosswalk configuration will be “the big change,” said Dennis. “Right now, a pedestrian [coming from Castro] has to cross 17th Street and then cross Market Street. In the future, they’ll be able to walk directly across Market from Castro and 17th.”

The plaza will feel “less chopped up,” said Andrea Aiello, president of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefits District.

The plaza improvements were selected by residents through a Planning Department survey of residents last year. Asked to choose between four different ways to spend a chunk of the Castro project’s money, plaza upgrades were heavily favored over options for bus bulb-outs on 18th at Castro, bulb-outs and a “gateway” median at 19th and Castro, and bulb-outs on the northern corners of Castro and Market.

Aiello said the new colored pavement is “exciting,” and will make the plaza “look a little more permanent,” compared to the peeling paint on the existing asphalt.

The pedestrian island and bollards should also help provide a stronger sense of protection from the fast-moving car traffic upper Market, Aiello said. “I’m hopeful that it will make people feel a bit more comfortable sitting there… there is always going to be that element that some people are afraid to sit there because a car’s going to come crashing into them from Market Street.” (No drivers have crashed into the plaza since 17th was closed to cars five years ago.)

Dennis said it’s unclear when the plaza improvements will go in, but they’ll be done at some point before October, when Castro construction is scheduled to be completed.

The Planning Department’s plans for the Castro/17th/Market intersection (left) compared with a Google Earth shot of the current layout (without the existing concrete planters).