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SFMTA Starts West Portal Outreach

Agency presents plans to block traffic from crossing in front of the train station

The crossing of Lenox at Ulloa near where a family of four was killed in West Portal. SFMTA has added safe-hit posts and paint. More radical changes are planned. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

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SFMTA started soliciting comment this week on plans to reconfigure the intersection of Ulloa Street and West Portal Avenue, where car traffic, trains, buses, and pedestrians currently mix. The first of three in-person outreach meetings was held Monday. There is also an online survey. The plan is to start work on the project this summer.

From SFMTA's web page on the project:

Mayor London Breed and District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar have asked the SFMTA to improve traffic safety near West Portal Station in light of the tragic incident killing 4 pedestrians that occurred on March 16, 2024

West Portal Station is a key connection point in San Francisco’s transportation system. Three rail lines and two bus routes serving 50,000 daily riders intersect at West Portal Avenue and Ulloa Street, where the Twin Peaks Tunnel links the light rail lines to the Market Street Subway.

Also from SFMTA:

The high volumes of people passing through this area underscores the importance of making it safe to make transit connections and travel to and from West Portal residences, businesses and community amenities.  

SFMTA's has long had this "new" plan. It's festered because of politics. Now it will continue to do so because of a new committee. Image: SFMTA

"Its station should exemplify the name: a portal to the westside. But our current station is in dire need of improvements to make it safer for people going to work, school, and frequenting our small businesses," wrote Supervisor Myrna Melgar, in a statement. "My office is working closely with the SFMTA and the Mayor’s Office to be bold and swift with the necessary improvements at the West Portal Station Project."

There will be a meeting tomorrow/Tuesday, April 23, from 8-9:30 a.m. at West Portal Station (northwest corner of West Portal Avenue and Ulloa Street) and Wednesday, April 24, from 4-5:45 p.m. outside the West Portal Branch Library (190 Lenox Way). Again, the online survey is available here.

Traffic was banned from the 40th Street Portal Station (Philadelphia's 'West Portal' station) in 1983. This could be a good model for San Francisco. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

The designs propose using planters and other physical objects to prevent traffic from entering the space in front of the station, as seen in the image below. Streetsblog notes that the SFMTA plan seems to echo that of 40th Street Portal Station in west Philadelphia, where, as with West Portal in San Francisco, trains come to the surface and branch out through a merchant corridor and residential area (see image above). Philadelphia closed traffic in front of 40th Street Portal in 1983.

An image from SFMTA's survey for the proposed changes to West Portal.

The traffic changes proposed by SFMTA are also similar to those put forth by advocates, except the city isn't planning to fully close the intersection between Lenox and Ulloa (see lead image), near where the family was killed. Instead, as the SFMTA diagram a few images above indicates, the intersection will be shrunk and traffic on Lenox will be made one-way.

A proposal from advocates would fully close Ulloa/Lenox

"We can not close Lenox due concerns from the San Francisco Fire Department," explained Melgar aide Michael Farrah. Streetsblog asked Farrah for more detail but he said the fire department did not elaborate.

Streetsblog has requested clarification and will update this post.

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