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Van Ness lanes remove trees, hurt Union Street shopping

The construction on Van Ness Avenue intended to improve mass transit and safety has irked neighborhood businesses and residents.

Beginning on Dec. 19, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) began removing the overhead electric system for buses on Van Ness between Market and McAllister Streets. Through the end of the month, SFMTA closed off a lane in each direction between Jackson and Greenwich streets, began moving median trees, and working on different sections of the street.

Union Street merchants were upset at the closure of left-turn lanes from Van Ness onto Union, occurring just a couple weeks before Christmas and right in the middle of holiday shopping. The Union Street Association complained that “Business traffic is down, and this is one of the main reasons why,” and it urged merchants to contact city officials for help. Meanwhile, local residents expressed concern about the loss of the meridian trees on Van Ness.

Creating additional local construction hurdles has been SFMTA’s commencement of work on Polk Street from Vallejo to Beach Streets, which is underway; the Polk Streetscape Project is planned to take place over a 24-month period of time.

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