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Residents, merchants oppose L-Taraval construction staging location

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Jerold Chinn/SFBay
Supervisor Gordon Mar spoke and heard from residents about the L-Taraval Improvement Project during a community meeting in San Francisco, Calif., Wednesday, July 18, 2019.

San Francisco neighbors and merchants in the Outer Sunset asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to present a better option or provide further explanation regarding their location choice for construction staging during the L-Taraval Improvement Project.

The project includes replacing rail tracks and overhead lines along Taraval Street, replacing water and sewer lines, installing concrete transit boarding islands and improving pedestrian safety.

At a community meeting Wednesday night at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, transit officials presented two options to the community, both of which called for construction staging on the Lower Great Highway between Santiago and Ulloa streets with varying parking loss.

Residents and merchants demanded a third option and explanations as to why other locations were not considered.

The first option would re-stripe both sides of the Lower Great Highway between Santiago and Ulloa streets and maintain two lanes of traffic. Ninety-six parking spaces would be eliminated.

A second option would maintain 80 parking spaces, but only one southbound lane of traffic would be open on the Lower Great Highway and northbound traffic would reroute to 48th Avenue.

Some residents voted during the meeting and others can vote online or by text by July 22.

One resident said:

“You didn’t consider any other staging area and you gave us a second possibility. You didn’t consider what it would do traffic-wise.”

That same resident and others asked the SFMTA to consider a parking lot at the San Francisco Zoo as an alternative.

Doug Marschke, owner of Underdogs Too located on Taraval Street near 46th Avenue, said:

“There’s an impact directly in front of my restaurant on Taraval Street… that’s all going to be tore up and all the parking is all gone. There’s the staging area.”

Herman Young, a representative with NTK Construction, Inc. — the construction company chosen for the project’s first phase — said the Lower Great Highway was considered an appropriate place for crews to drop off rail and weld rail together. Young added that the staging area will also be used to store equipment for sewer and water main work.

Young said:

“If the materials are closer to the site where we need them down on the Great Highway area, then the job will be completed sooner than if they were farther away.”

Residents and merchants complained that SFMTA issued notification about the initial plan to remove 96 parking spaces on the Lower Great Highway only two weeks before construction was originally set to begin on July 1.

Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the Sunset District, said he suggested alternate locations that would have less impact on parking spaces and Taravel Street merchants. One suggestion is two blocks north of the Great Highway.

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Supervisor Gordon Mar spoke and heard from residents about the L-Taraval Improvement Project during a community meeting in San Francisco, Calif., Wednesday, July 18, 2019.

Mar said:

“I was surprised that they didn’t have a clear response tonight about why those ideas were not feasible.”

Mar added:

“MTA’s inability to provide a clear response why these other options are not feasible just lead to more frustration and a feeling that they’re just committed to moving ahead with their ideas.”

The supervisor said he was glad to hear the transit agency will commit to another meeting in order to present a third option or otherwise explain why other locations are not being considered.

Victor Yuen, an SFMTA resident engineer, said he will review the agency’s reasoning and will provide the community with an answer at a subsequent meeting.

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