By Thomas K. Pendergast
Replacing tracks, sewers, water mains and the electrical network of overhead wires and traffic signals along Taraval Street, from Sunset Boulevard to West Portal, starts this month as the second half of the L-Taraval light-rail revamp begins.
Prior to the pandemic, the L-Taraval carried 33,000 passengers on an average weekday, said Lulu Feliciano, a public outreach and engagement manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) during an online open-house meeting about the project.
“This is a very active corridor,” Feliciano said. “Unfortunately, it’s also a high-injury corridor for pedestrians, where in five years we witnessed and experienced 46 pedestrian injury collisions, of which 22 passengers were boarding and alighting at train stops without a boarding island. So, rebuilding this corridor is important to the community, as it enhances both the transit reliability and pedestrian safety. Not to mention, the corridor was not only busy, but it’s also not ADA compliant and we were also experiencing delays on the corridor.”
The infrastructure improvements include upgrading the tracks and overhead line wires, replacing water and sewer lines, repaving the street, curb ramp upgrades and improving the boarding islands to make them ADA compliant. New traffic signals will also be installed. The final phase will be the installation of new trees and landscaping.
In total, workers will install 10 new transit boarding islands and five new high-level accessible platforms along segment B. They will also extend three existing transit boarding islands.
Jeanette Sanchez of the SFMTA said the project is expected to last until the fall of 2024.
On Taraval Street, at the intersection with 17th Avenue, the regular eastbound stop across the street from the Safeway will be relocated from west of 17th Avenue to east of 17th Avenue, and a new boarding island will be constructed there that will not have a high-level ADA wheelchair accessible platform.
On Taraval Street, west of 17th Avenue, however, a high-level stand-alone ADA accessible wheelchair platform will be constructed for eastbound trains.
The stop at 15th Avenue and Taraval heading eastbound is going to be removed once the 17th Avenue stops are installed. A new transit bulb without an attached high-level ADA accessible platform will be constructed for the westbound stop at 15th Avenue and Taraval Street.
At Ulloa Street and Forest Side Avenue, the stops in both directions will be removed and relocated to Ulloa Street and 14th Avenue.
Two boarding islands will have attached high-level wheelchair accessible platforms at 19th Avenue in both directions and so will a new platform on 30th Avenue for the eastbound direction.
Other new transit boarding islands that will not have the high-level ADA wheelchair accessible platforms along Taraval Street will be the 26th Avenue stops in both directions, 30th Avenue in the westbound direction and then 32nd Avenue in both directions. A new high-accessible stand-alone ADA wheelchair accessible platform will be located at the intersection of Taraval and 28th Avenue, heading westbound.
Some of the existing transit boarding islands that will be extended are located on 22nd Avenue eastbound and then 23rd Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, both heading westbound.
As for the overall timeline of this segment, the first step is replacing or rehabilitating sewer and water lines. Then concrete and track work will be done. Finally the streetscape elements will be installed.
The shuttle bus service currently being used to substitute for the light rail trains will continue for the entire length of the line until further notice.
The sewer and waterwork and underground work will be completed first before moving to the middle track construction. Following that will be building the boarding islands. And after those islands are completed, then the roadway paving work will be done.
As was the case for the first segment, staging areas for storing equipment nearby will be necessary.
The planned storage locations include: Santiago Street between 22nd and 24th avenues; 20th Avenue between Ulloa and Vicente streets; Wawona Street between 21st and 23rd avenues; 36th Avenue between Taraval and Ulloa streets; and Taraval between 12th and 15th avenues in the center track lane.
“These locations are permanent locations where we expect to have equipment staged during the entire course of the rest of segment B,” Sanchez said. “As the project continues, there will be some small, localized staging areas to be determined as the work moves block by block, and we would provide advanced notice once that happens.”
“There will be local access to residents and businesses when streets and intersections are closed,” she explained. “And on the occasion where we do have to close one side of the block and close access to driveways for a day or two during pavement, we would provide advanced notice and work with residents to let them know that that’s happening.”
During public comment at the open house, the director of real estate for Safeway, Natalie Mattei, expressed concern about getting supplies into the market on Taraval at 17th Avenue.
“When this was in the design planning phase, we provided truck templates and a video of how our 18-wheelers deliver to the store,” Mattei said. “They have quite a maneuver that backs up through the intersection and my understanding is that there would be a new traffic signal installed at the intersection. I just want to keep it on everybody’s radar that we do have delivery trucks seven days a week. So, they are coming consistently on a daily basis.”
For more information on the L-Taraval Improvement Project, go to: sfmta.com/projects/l-taraval-improvement-project.