Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Transportation & Infrastructure
Published on June 04, 2019
Community invited to weigh in on massive Market Street overhaulA rendering of the Better Market Street Project. | Image: Courtesy of SF Public Works

The future of Market Street is up for review at an open house on Wednesday night. At the event, the city will share its plans to transform transit, biking, and pedestrian safety on a 2.2-mile stretch of Market from Steuart Street (near the Embarcadero) to Octavia Blvd. 

As we reported back in March, the most notable component of the Better Market Street project is the plan to cease all private automotive traffic on Market Street from Steuart Street to Van Ness Avenue (westbound) and 10th Street to Main Street (eastbound).

Taxis, commercial delivery vehicles and paratransit would still be allowed on that stretch of Market, but personal vehicles and ride-hailing cars from services like Uber and Lyft would not. 

In place of the private vehicles, Muni will replace its aboveground public transit infrastructure, add new sidewalk-level bike lanes and create designated "red" center lanes for Muni buses and F-Market streetcars.

The initial phase of the project will focus on Market between Sixth and Eighth streets, and is expected to break ground in 2020. 

Sidewalk-level loading zones will be available during off-peak biking hours.

As part of the proposed changes on those blocks, delivery vehicles will be allowed to pull up past the bike lane into a sidewalk-level loading zone during off-peak hours, such as midday and after the evening rush hour. 

But at peak commute hours, they'll have to use new loading zones on side streets and nearby alleyways. The new loading zones will also take over about 227 on-street parking spots, on cross-streets and side streets adjacent to Market.

The project will add new protected bike lanes both east and west along Market Street, with designated bicycle signals and pedestrian crosswalks to improve both walker and biker safety. 

To make way for the added sidewalk and bike lane space, the six remaining metered parking spaces on Market near Spear Street will be removed. 

Bike lane improvements in the proposed project

SFMTA is also planning to create a new turnaround for the F-Market streetcar line, which runs down Market Street to the Embarcadero.

Most of the train's ridership comes from people shuttling between Powell station and Fisherman's Wharf, according to the Better Market Street team. By adding another loop at McAllister Street and Charles J. Brenham Place, Muni can nearly double the number of F-Market trains running through the busiest parts of the route during peak periods.

To protect cyclists from the turn-around, a new parking-protected bike lane would also be installed between McAllister and Charles J. Brenham Place.

Along with the new loop, the project will completely replace the old streetcar rails on Market between Steuart and Octavia, resurface and add landscaping to many of the streetscape areas, add new lighting and transit boarding islands, and upgrade utilities.

The proposed project adds a turn-around for the F-Market line at McAllister, to accommodate peak ridership from Powell station to Fisherman's Wharf.

The total project is estimated to cost $504 million, including the water, sewer, power and pavement improvements. So far, funding has come from San Francisco's Proposition K transportation sales tax, SFMTA’s Proposition A General Obligation bond, and a federal BUILD grant. 

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority says the project has currently secured $140 million, which should cover the design of the entire project and the first phase of construction, from Sixth to Eighth streets.

The project costs will also include the removal of all existing trees along Market, and the replacement or relocation of those trees during construction.

The project's sponsors know the construction will cause some significant impacts to local businesses. Spokesperson Jennifer Blot said the Better Market Street team will "be working closely with the [Mayor's] Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD)" to mitigate declines in foot traffic.

A rendering of the proposed eastbound bike lane and added pedestrian space at Sixth and Market streets.

At tomorrow night's open house, project leaders will discuss their plans and take questions, starting around 4:30 p.m. Confirmed speakers include SF Public Works director Mohammed Nuru, SFMTA director of transportation Ed Reiskin and SF Planning director John Rahaim, as well as the chair and vice chair of the project’s community working group, Ron Miguel and Charles Deffarges.

The Better Market Street open house will run from 4-7 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, June 5, at 1117 Market Street. Bike valet parking will be available for the duration of the event.