Taraval Street safety work begins next week

Work will begin next week on Taraval Street to make safety near-term improvements to transit stops for passengers who use Muni’s L-Taraval.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will begin work on Monday, Jan. 23, weather permitting, as part of the L-Taraval Rapid Project, which will include painting clear zones, safety zones at sidewalk corners and painting new street markings at some L-Taraval transit stops, according to transit agency spokesperson Paul Rose.

The painted clear zones are markings used to separate Muni trains and the traffic lane to give passengers a safe place to step off the rail vehicle.

The clear zones will appear in the eastbound and westbound directions on 19th, 42nd and 44th avenues along Taraval Street. In the eastbound direction, the markings will appear on 26th, 30th, 32nd, 40th and 46th avenues, according to the transit agency.

Concrete boarding islands will eventually be installed by the transit agency in 2018 at those transit stops.

The project also focuses on pedestrian safety. The SFMTA will add painted sidewalk extensions at six intersections that include 20th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 33rd and 38th avenues.

The painted sidewalk extensions will also be temporary as the SFMTA plans to place concrete bulb-outs at those intersections.

Another near-term improvement crews will begin working on is new visible paint in the traffic lane and new street signs to remind drivers that they must stop behind all trains to allow passengers to board and get off trains.

Transit officials will test out the new markings in a six-month pilot to evaluate how drivers comply to the new street and pavement signage on 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues.

Currently, only 72 percent of drivers comply with the law to stop behind trains. Officials want the compliance rate to increase to 90 percent with the new measures in place. If not, those intersections would also get concrete boarding islands.

The transit agency will also paint transit-only lane symbols on the rail tracks on both sides of Taraval Street. Drivers will still be able to make left turns at permitted intersections. Transit officials said the lane will get painted red, but not until the construction portion of the project is complete.

A study will also take place for year to identify any traffic impact from the lanes converting to transit-only lanes.

Discussion of installing concrete boarding islands was a controversial topic between merchants and the transit agency throughout the outreach process.

Installing permanent boarding islands would mean the loss of several parking spaces for each boarding installed, which merchants said would directly affect businesses in the neighborhood.

Also controversial was the removal of eight transit stops from the L-Taraval in order to speed up the rail line. The removal of stops will not take effect until Feb. 25, according to the SFMTA.

One stop in particular that riders wanted to save is the eastbound 17th Avenue and Travel Street stop, several feet away from Safeway. The transit agency said the removal of the stop is on hold until further review.

Rose said it will take approximately take five weeks to complete the near-term improvements, but again said it would depend on the weather.

Drivers will still be able to drive on Taraval Street during the construction work said Rose:

“Striping and grinding of paint may require closing one lane of traffic temporarily on individual blocks, but traffic will still be able to travel through Taraval throughout construction.”