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SFMTA Announces Preferred Alternative For Polk Street

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) selected its “preferred alternative” plan for the Polk Street Improvement Project. For months, the agency has been meeting with local advocates of increased and improved biking lanes as well as local residents and businesses concerned about the proposed changes, in particular about the effects of reduced street parking.

SFMTA chose “Option B for Upper/Middle and Lower Polk,” which would include in upper/middle Polk a southbound green bicycle lane, northbound green shared-lane markings, and a part-time northbound bike lane during the morning commuting hour. For lower Polk, nearly a mile of green protected bike lane would be added in one direction, with a buffered bike lane in the opposite direction. Lower Polk would also include turn pockets and changes to the signal timing aimed at reducing conflicts between different modes of transportation.

Both upper/middle and lower Polk would have high-visibility crosswalks, corner “bulbout” sidewalk extensions, red zones near intersections, pedestrian countdown signals at corners where they are now missing, and adjustments to traffic signal timing to prioritize pedestrians.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said the plan “improves neighborhood livability for all using the corridor, and creates a more organized street by reducing chaos and confusion.”

A final public “open house” was scheduled for July 25; the agency said it would also be doing further outreach to local businesses to “ensure that local businesses are minimally impacted.” The project will then head into the full environmental review phase before an expected vote to approve it by the SFMTA’s board of directors in spring or summer of 2014.

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