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Third Street corridor targeted for pedestrian, transit upgrades

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Several pedestrian and Muni improvements are heading for the busy Third Street corridor from King to Mission streets.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved to move an existing transit-only lane away from right turning vehicles, install wider sidewalks at bus stops, paint high-visibility crosswalks, and restrict private auto from not making a right turn on red at Bryant and Folsom streets.

Third Street is home to seven Muni routes, which carry a total of 70,000 Muni passengers, said Steve Boland, the SFMTA project manager for the Third Street Transit and Safety Project.

Boland said buses currently are unable to use the red transit-only lane, especially during heavy traffic at the peak times, as vehicles are making a right turn to get access to Interstate 80 onto the Bay Bridge.

The red transit-only lane is adjacent to the right turn only lane and traffic can sometimes spill over the transit only-lane, Boland said:

“What also happens regularly is that buses will just get out and go around traffic, which is a time-consuming process.”

The SFMTA staff report said travel times, for example, on the 30-Stockton are nearly 40 percent longer from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. compared to travel times a few hours later from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The project will move the red-transit only lane to the third lane starting at north of Brannan Street to just north of the existing Folsom Street transit stop. Between Folsom and Howard streets, the transit-only lane will be in the second lane, away from the curbside.

There will also be two transit stop changes. The project removes the Howard Street transit stop and moves the Harrison Street transit stop to Bryant Street.

Additionally, the project will add two right-turn lanes at Bryant and Folsom streets, but vehicles will not able to make right turns during a red light and pedestrians will not be able to cross while vehicles are making the turn, said Boland.

New crosswalks, extending the sidewalks at transit stops, advanced limit lines in order stop cars before the crosswalk, and upgrading traffic signals to give pedestrians a head start, are also part of the several pedestrian improvements on Third Street.

The $14 million project will construct the project in two phases with the first phase beginning later this year.

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