Muni sets date to begin Van Ness BRT construction

Construction of San Francisco’s first bus rapid transit system will now start in November after transit officials said it would break ground on the project this summer.

A subcontractor dispute led to the delayed start of construction along Van Ness Avenue, said Paul Rose, spokesman for the Municipal Transportation Agency.

SFMTA documents show that The City’s Public Utilities Commission and a subcontractor chosen to do sewer and water line replacement work could not agree upon a price for the work. Instead, the Public Utilities Commission decided to bid the work out.

The SFMTA’s Board of Directors at its Aug. 16 meeting approved a contract amendment with Walsh Construction Company II, LLC, which is overseeing the construction of the project, to allow the company to begin work.

The Van Ness Improvement Corridor Project will include dedicated center-running transit lanes for Muni’s 47-Van Ness and 49-Van Ness/Mission routes that officials said will help improve reliability and reduce transit travel time for Muni riders by over 30 percent. Both routes currently serve about 45,000 riders a day.

Buses will change to low-floor buses and new station platforms will be able to accommodate riders waiting for the bus and for two buses to load and unload passengers at the same time.

Improvements such as pedestrian countdown timers, pedestrian bulb-outs and eliminating most left turns on the Van Ness Avenue corridor are also part of the project.

SFMTA documents show that primary bus rapid transit portion of the project will cost $189.5 million, which includes the cost of procuring new buses.

Additional work will also be worked on including replacing overhead wires and poles, replacement of streetlights, putting in new traffic signals, replacement of existing water and sewer lines and reconstruction and relocation of the fire department’s auxiliary water supply system.

The total cost of all the improvements along the Van Ness Avenue corridor is $316.4 million, according to SFMTA documents. Funds for the project will come from federal grants, state funds, revenue bonds, local Proposition K funds and local funds from the Public Utilities Commission.

Officials began the bus consolidation portion of the project in June so that riders and Muni operators can get used to the changes before the opening of the bus rapid transit system in late 2019.

SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said in a statement:

“Van Ness will see better transit, safer streets and strengthened infrastructure that will improve the transportation network and keep our city in a state of good repair.”