Major 2-Year Roadwork Project Begins on 19th Avenue

By Thomas K. Pendergast

Commuters driving southbound on 19th Avenue from Lincoln Way might want to consider other options because a traffic lane will be shut down at certain places  along that busy roadway all the way down to Holloway Avenue for at least the next 27 months. 

Those closures will come before work to repave that entire length of California State Route 1 even starts. 

Work to replace water and sewer mains and to make other upgrades along 19th Avenue from Lincoln Way to Holloway Avenue got underway on Nov. 30 and is expected to last more than two years. Photo by Tom Pendergast.

During the street repair project, sewer and water mains will be replaced and upgrades will be made to the Emergency Firefighting Water System. 

ADA-compliant curb  ramps will be installed and bulb-outs will be added to shorten the walking distance across the six-lane avenue; plus concrete bus pads and traffic signal improvements will be part of the project. Sidewalks will also be widened at bus stops, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Works (SFDPW). 

The project came out of the 19th Avenue Transit Effectiveness Project and is a joint venture between the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA), the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), CalTrans and SFDPW. 

Work will go from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and planned for only in a single lane on one side of 19th Avenue at a time. 

It will have four phases, starting with the stretch between Lincoln Way and Noriega Street in the southbound direction, although crews may work on more than one segment at a time. 

Dadisi Najib of the department’s Public Affairs office said the (estimated) $46 million project has several funding sources, with 42% coming from the SFMTA. The rest will come from the SFPUC Water ESER and Water Local bonds, plus their WWE Repair and Replace Funds. 

Crews will be working on one lane in the construction zone during working hours. After working hours and on weekends, the roadway will be opened back up to three lanes for traffic.

“They are only working on one side of the street at a time so they’re starting southbound at Lincoln Way,” Najib said. “They’ll go down, that’s the west side of the street, southbound lanes to Noriega and they’ll loop back around Noriega back up to Lincoln Way, northbound, when they get finished on the west side.”

The first two weeks will go south to Irving Street, according to Najib. Work zones are about a block and will each take approximately two to three weeks to complete, on average. This initial construction will be just for sewer work. 

“We have to do sewer work first,” she said. “They’ll do sewer work all the way down, six blocks, and then they’ll come back up the other side. And then when the sewer work is done and approved, then they’ll start the water work.” 

Najib explained that they could not do the sewer and water mains at the same time because they are on different levels beneath the ground and require two different types of work. 

“They start with the deepest utilities first, which will be the sewer lines, and then when they’re done with that then they’ll do the water work.”

The overall project is divided into four phases or segments: the first started Nov. 30t, ultimately going from Lincoln Way to Noriega St. and is expected to take 13.5 months to complete; the second segment then goes from Noriega to Taraval Street and should take 10.5 months; the third will go from Taraval to Eucalyptus Drive, taking about 15.5 months and the fourth will take about 7.5 months to the end at Holloway. Assuming there will be overlap between segments concurrently under construction, the entire process is expected to last 27 months. 

Najib said there are general restrictions on doing work at night because of the noise and the many residences lining the avenue, but there will be certain times when crews will have to work in the evening, mostly tied to water connection work.

“The only times where there may be night work will be when they’re doing water connection switchovers,” she said. “We try to do it during the day but sometimes the water department has to schedule that work at night, in which case the affected residents addresses will be notified by the water department and then … we’ll also be providing outreach via methods such as Nextdoor and our email blasts to let folks know that water might be temporarily disrupted while they do the switchover connections. That usually takes 45 minutes to an hour at the most.”

The work also might require crews to close off access to some cross streets from 19th Avenue while utility work is performed across intersections. The department says in those cases motorists will be detoured to the next block and then back to the avenue. Local access will be allowed for residents living on closed cross streets and traffic restrictions are in place so that only one cross street will be closed for every five blocks.

Bus stops for the 28-line on the avenue will also be affected, and it is expected that the contractor will coordinate with Muni to properly communicate bus stop relocations to transit riders. 

At the end of the project, Caltrans plans to pave the entire stretch, between Lincoln Way on the north end to Holloway Avenue on the south. 

Najib said they considered repaving the asphalt concurrent with each section as they went along but eventually decided against that approach, opting to do it all as one project after the other work is finished “due to cost efficiency and for uniformity of the finished product.” 

As for the impact construction may have on the many businesses lining the avenue, she said they will try to accommodate the needs and minimize the inconvenience.

“They’ll always have access,” she said. “We’ll work with them around deliveries, any special deliveries. We’ve often had designated or allowed for designated delivery zones, even when we’re working within a block that impacts a business. We’ll definitely help them with that. We’ll help them with signage and just trying to get through those areas as quickly as possible so that businesses aren’t impacted for a lengthy period of time.

“Our project team will work to minimize impacts to businesses. However, if a merchant feels they’ve been deeply impacted by our project, they’re welcome to contact us and we’ll get them in communication with (the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development).” 


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