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Geary & Steiner pedestrian bridge to be demolished later this month

The Steiner Street pedestrian bridge over Geary Boulevard will be demolished later this month. | Photos: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline

By Carrie Sisto - Published on May 11, 2020.

Over Memorial Day weekend, several streets in the heart of the Fillmore District — including Geary Boulevard — will be closed down for the demolition of the pedestrian bridge at Geary and Steiner Street.

The bridge has been set for removal as part of the Geary Street Bus Rapid Transit Project, which aims to significantly improve speeds on the 38-Geary and 38R-Geary Rapid bus lines, the busiest in the Muni system.

First erected in 1962, prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the bridge is not up to current standards for wheelchair users  — its slopes are at an 11-17% grade, while ADA standards call for slopes of 5% or less. 

Neighbors have also raised concerns about safety issues on the bridge for years, arguing that it has drawn encampments and a rat infestation. 

As a result, it's gone largely unused in recent years: the SFMTA says that only 20% of pedestrians opt to use the bridge, instead of the street-level crosswalk installed at Geary and Steiner in 2011. 

The neighboring pedestrian bridge at Geary and Webster streets also fails to meet ADA standards. But it will remain in place after lobbying by neighborhood advocates, who say it's frequently used by students at nearby Rosa Parks Elementary School.

Tents and encampments are frequent sights near the bridge's on-ramps and on the bridge itself.

The bridge's removal will start at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 22, with the removal of existing fixtures such as fire hydrants and street lighting. Demolition of the bridge will start the morning of Saturday, May 23. The majority of the large-scale construction is expected to occur between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., but crews will be working 24/7 over the course of the weekend.

SFMTA expects the bridge spans over Geary to be removed in three sections and taken offsite for disposal. The spiral ramps and bridge support piers will be demolished on-site, using hydraulic concrete processors. Debris from the site will be removed in dump trucks.

Pedestrian detours will be marked throughout the construction site, and no foot traffic will be able to cross Geary in the area where demolition work is occurring. Cyclists are encouraged to use Webster Street to avoid the majority of the construction. 

As for buses, the outbound 38/38R stops will be relocated one block north, from Fillmore to Webster Street. The inbound and outbound 38 stops at Scott Street will both be moved: inbound will be shifted to the northeast side of the intersection, and the outbound stop will move across the intersection toward Divisadero Street. 

The SFMTA expects the streets to reopen no later than 8 p.m. on Monday, May 25. Businesses and residents of the affected blocks will still have access during construction.

Geary Street closures, reroutes, and bus stop changes over Memorial Day weekend. | Image: SFMTA

Once the bridge is removed, the next step will be upgrading the street-level crosswalk at Steiner with new signals and pedestrian bulb-outs.

The former bridge on-ramp areas will also be converted into additions to their neighboring public spaces. 

Hamilton Recreation Center will have a new stairway added at the northwest corner of Steiner and Geary, and will also receive a new patio and landing area. 

On the south side of the Steiner intersection, the grassy entrance area of the Raymond Kimbell Playground will be expanded with a new paved pathway that takes pedestrians into the park from Geary Street.

The removal of the Steiner bridge's southern spiral onramp will add new space to the Raymond Kimbell Playground's grassy entrance area.

Meanwhile, the first phase of the Geary BRT project remains underway on O'Farrell Street, with several Tenderloin-area bus stopsbeing shifted to allow for ongoing construction work.

The inbound 38/38R stop on O’Farrell between Jones and Taylor will move slightly east, and the stop between Stockton and Grant streets will be temporarily relocated west, to accommodate the construction zone.  

Construction workers unearthed sections of old cable car tracks while excavating for the new pedestrian bulb-out at the O'Farrell stop between Jones and Taylor streets. | Photo: SFMTA
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