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Second Street begins rebirth as pedestrian, bike corridor

San Francisco officials broke ground on a $20 million streetscape project Wednesday morning that will transform Second Street between King and Market streets into a safer corridor for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Second Street is part of The City’s high-injury corridor network where 70 percent of collisions occur on 12 percent of the city’s streets, according to officials.

The transformation of the street will include wider sidewalks between Harrison and Townsend streets, ADA-accessible curb ramps and new trash receptacles, bike racks, benches and pedestrian lighting.

Crews will also install high-visibility crosswalks, upgrading traffic signals, installing sidewalk bulb outs, bus boarding islands and raised bikeways, according to San Francisco Public Works.

Upgrades to the sewer system, repaving the street and undergrounding overhead utility wires, are also part of the Second Street Improvement Project.

Director of Public Works Mohammed Nuru said by the completion of the project:

“We will have upgraded sewers thanks our to San Francisco PUC. We will have a smoother roadway, and most importantly, a safer and more attractive neighborhood.”

Mayor Ed Lee said the recent water main that broke near Second and Harrison streets on Tuesday was a reminder of the sewer’s aging infrastructure and how badly the water pipes are need of replacement.

Lee added construction will be done in four phases over the next two years to mitigate impacts to the neighborhood, like San Francisco Giants fans heading to AT&T Park, or going to a concert:

“There will be an effort to mitigate all of this by breaking it up in segments so that it doesn’t interrupt everybody who wants to get to the Giants game or also the next concert.”

Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the South of Market area, said the neighborhood had always been a residential neighborhood, but largely a commercial, production, manufacturing area:

“The people in the neighborhood changed, but our streets didn’t.”

Kim added:

“Second Street was really the corridor that we had intended to be our neighborhood corridor — one that our residents could bike down safely, walk down safely.”

Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said Second Street plays an important role in the transportation network because the street connects to the ballpark, to Market Street, and that the street attracts a lot of people on foot because of new residents and businesses.

Reiskin said though that the street is known as one of the most dangerous corridors in The City and that the project is a “Vision Zero effort” to reduce traffic deaths by 2024:

“By redesigning streets such as this one that host to a disproportionate amount of these collisions, this is how we’re going to get to zero.”

The project is funded by One Bay Area Grants, federal funds, South of Market development impact fees and local Proposition K sales tax revenue.

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  1. Ziggy Tomcich says:

    While I totally support redesigning our streets to make them safer, I really wish the media made it more obvious that urgently needed replacement of century old utility lines is what’s responsible for most of the cost and time.

    Water mains, sewer mains, and overhead Muni wiring need to be replaced because most of this stuff is very old and it’s always cheaper to replace these utilities before they catastrophically fail. Replacing these utilities while they’re still in use is a very complex and expensive operation. Yet when most people read this article, what they take away is that the city is spending $20 million on a 1 mile bike lane, or $650 to put bike lanes and pretty crosswalks on Market St, without mentioning that most of these costs and construction related delays are because of the utilities, not the streetscaping itself.

    We need safer streets, and we need to upgrade our aging utility lines. It makes much more sense to do these at the same time. If we have to rip up the street to replace utilities, it makes a lot more sense to pave a safer street design after. But telling people that most of the costs and construction headaches caused by the streetscaping itself is really disingenuous and it creates ignorant opposition to these projects.

    1. It drives me nuts that this project is to be built over 2 years (plus delays), despite 7+ years of planning. But the drawn out timing is because of infrastructure work—the resurfacing, bikelanes, and sidewalks could be redone in a few months.

      1. Jeffrey Baker says:

        The drawn out timeline is actually because the city refuses to just close the road to do the work. The road will remain open at all times during the project. Also they won’t work at night, so most of the day will be spent covering up their trenches in the afternoon and uncovering them again in the morning. Most work days on an SFPUC project consist of two hours of work interrupted by lunch and hours of setup and teardown on either side.

        If they would just close the road and blow it up the project would be done in a month.

        1. Ziggy Tomcich says:

          True, but the costs of completely closing 2nd street for a whole month would be far more expensive for the businesses that are on that street. Compared with what some of those businesses bring, shutting down those businesses could be far more costly.

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