Note: This story was reported and written in 2017.
By Nicole Newman
Beginning 2018, the Upper Haight and Ashbury area will undergo a transformation from Haight and Stanyan to Haight and Buchanan while the Upper Haight Transit Improvement and Pedestrian Realm Project will focus on improving roads and pedestrian traffic and adding stoplights.
Developed in 2016 by San Francisco Public Works, SFMTA and the San Francisco Planning Department, the project is run by Simon Bertrang, project manager, and Alex Murillo, public affairs manager. In 2010, a memorandum was done on pedestrian traffic in San Francisco and New York by Bond Yee, director of sustainable streets, stating, “Pedestrians typically account for half of the people killed in traffic collisions in San Francisco.”
According to Bertrang, this project was partially inspired by the San Francisco Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Although it may be a lengthy undertaking, the community knows it’s worth the wait because old pipes and utilities will be replaced in the process.
San Francisco has always faced difficulties with the amount of foot traffic versus the amount of car traffic. Nowadays with Lyft and Uber, the streets are much more full of cars than they previously were. It’s no wonder the streets are filled with pedestrians and bike traffic as San Francisco is the second most active city in the country behind Boston, according to an ABC news report in 2016.
Murillo, the public affairs manager, thinks the Upper Haight Transit Improvement and Pedestrian Realm Project is going to make the Haight-Ashbury a safer community for those traveling to work by alternative means.
“This project was partially designed to help the pedestrians,” Murillo says. “Traffic signals and lighting in the neighborhood will help control the traffic in the community.”
The project is anticipated to start in the spring of 2018 and is going to need a large team of people ready to work. Once the bid is put out, it will take about five or six months until project coordinators finalize their choice of a contractor. According to Murillo, “We’re going out to bid this month and after we obtain the bid, we will go out and search for contractors. We need to find a contractor that is qualified for this position and is in our price budget.”
Once the project begins, it is anticipated that it will take two years to finish. Local workers like Amanda Sondey of Coffee Cantata look forward to the changes in the neighborhood.
“I think that the neighborhood really needs this project,” Sondey says. The Haight-Ashbury is a community of people that are on their feet, and this will make the area much safer.”