San Francisco

7-year closure of Stockton Street near Union Square to end tomorrow

After being closed to traffic for nearly seven years, the blocks of Stockton Street between Market and Geary streets will finally reopen tomorrow, February 22, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency confirmed.

The blocks had been closed off for construction on the new Central Subway, which is expected to be fully completed later this year, according to SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato confirms.

Once open, the Union Square/Market Street station on the T-Third line is expected to be the busiest stop on the Central Subway, thanks to an underground concourse leading riders to Powell station for transfers to BART and other Muni lines. 

T-Third trains will travel mostly underground from the 4th Street Caltrain station to Chinatown. The three other stations on the 1.7-mile line will be at 4th and Brannan streets, 4th and Folsom streets (Yerba Buena/Moscone station) and Stockton and Washington streets (Chinatown station).

A rendering of the Union Square/Market Street station under Stockton Street. | Image: SFMTA

Due to the length of the construction, the closed blocks of Stockton have been used as a pedestrian plaza in recent years. Most notably, they've hosted the Union Square Business Improvement District's annual holiday Winter Walk, featuring Off the Grid's food trucks.

"The original purpose [of the Winter Walk] was to mitigate the impact of the street closure on the merchants," USBID executive director Karin Flood told Hoodline via phone. "But it turned out to be so much more."

Flood said that the SFMTA even discussed keeping Stockton Street permanently closed to automotive traffic, but the idea drew opposition from some merchants on the street. 

Last year's Winter Walk. | Photo: Kevin Y./Yelp

With Stockton reopened, Flood said her group is evaluating its options for hosting either another Winter Walk or a more traditional holiday market. Closing off a portion of Stockton remains a potential option, as does moving to a smaller street in the neighborhood, such as Campton Place or Maiden Lane.

But for now, "we are so relieved" to see Stockton Street reopen, Flood said, adding that merchants in the area "are breathing a collective sigh."

Image: SFMTA

The reopening is also good news for Muni riders, with several bus routes, such as the 8, 8AX, 8BX, and 91-OWL, returning to their previous routes on Stockton and Fourth streets starting next Monday.

With Stockton once again open, the SFMTA expects riders to save about five minutes of travel time from Chinatown to SoMa and onwards to Visitacion Valley.

But passengers of the 45-Union/Stockton and 30-Stockton lines will have to be a bit more patient. Those buses won't return to their previous routes until later this year, after construction in the area is further along. 

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