Plans are in the works to revamp the mid-block Polk Street crosswalk in front of City Hall, four months after city worker Priscilla Moreto was killed by a cable car-style tour bus. Raymond Lucas from Classic Cable Car Charters was cited for misdemeanor vehicle manslaughter in the incident, and the SFMTA has been proactively looking into how to improve safety for the crossing, which connects City Hall with Civic Center Plaza.
Plans had been in place to install a traffic light prior to the
accident collision, though they weren't pushed through until after it occurred. Mayor Ed Lee confirmed the plans, telling SFGate “we wanted to lessen the chances of colliding here, but it didn’t happen fast enough. It was probably only a couple months away.”
On November 12th of last year, a proposal was submitted by the SFMTA to the Planning Department to remove the existing crosswalk, which is protected only by a set of blinking lights, and replace it with a traditional traffic light and pedestrian signal setup.
In keeping with the aesthetics of City Hall, two traffic signals will be mounted on preexisting ornamental street light poles. Two pedestrian signals will require new 7-foot poles, and the Historic Preservation Commission has approved the plans under the condition that the new poles be painted “Dark Opera Blue” to match the existing poles.
In addition, the SFMTA's proposal recommended that any future construction in front of City Hall should include traffic-calming mechanisms commonly seen popping up around the rest of San Francisco, such as bulb-outs. While this recommendation is on the record, at this time there are no plans for future streetscaping or construction.
Paul Rose from the SFMTA has confirmed that the plan was moving forward, with work anticipated to be completed by this summer.
We'll keep you updated as construction progresses. In the meantime, check yourself next time you're crossing this street, along with any of the most dangerous intersections in Hayes Valley.
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