Geary bus rapid transit project hits milestone

The highly-anticipated Geary Bus Rapid Transit project hit a milestone Friday as San Francisco transit officials announced the release of the draft environmental impact report.

The 700-plus page report is an analysis of the impact of the project in the Geary corridor, which includes the analysis of the staff recommended design of having dedicated bus lanes in the center on Geary Boulevard from the Outer Richmond to Arguello Boulevard and side running bus-only lanes between Fillmore Street and into the downtown area.

Riders on the 38-Geary can expect to save up to 15 minutes of travel time between the Outer Richmond and downtown and improve transit reliability by 20 percent on the staff recommended design, according to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which authored the environmental report in partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Federal Transit Administration.

Tilly Chang, executive director of the transportation authority, said in a statement that the time savings will have a great impact to the 55,000 daily riders who use Muni and Golden Gate Transit service along the six-mile corridor:

“Geary BRT will provide a quantum improvement in transit service for Muni and Golden Gate Transit riders while phasing in early traffic safety and infrastructure upgrades on this great street.”

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said in a statement that the project would help benefit the thousands of riders who use the corridor each day:

“Geary connects multiple neighborhoods from east to west and is one of the most heavily-used bus corridors west of the Mississippi. We’re eager to get the project underway and in service to the benefit of Muni customers.”

The release of the draft report also means that the project is close to securing federal funding from the FTA, the transportation authority said.

Geary BRT project is seeking $75 million from the federal government to help fund the $300 million project.

Before the project can compete for the federal funds, the transportation authority must complete the final environmental impact report and approval from the FTA.

The transportation authority is currently seeking public on the draft environmental impact report from now until Nov. 16.

A meeting will be held on Nov. 5 in St. Francis Hall at St. Mary’s Cathedral (1111 Gough Street) between 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p,m. for the public to give comments on the report. The public can also mail comments to the transportation authority or email comments to gearybrt@sfcta.org.

The public can download the draft report off the transportation authority website and printed copies are available at some San Francisco public libraries.

Once the comments the transportation authority responds to the comments, it expects to produce a final environmental impact report in the spring of 2016.

Phase 1 of the project, which includes the construction near-term improvements between Market and Stanyan streets, would start in 2016.

Construction of Phase 2 of project will start in 2019. The second phase includes the construction of the center running bus-only lane.

The transportation authority expects to complete the project as early as 2020.