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Advocate for 2nd Street Improvements at Tuesday’s SFCTA Meeting

Greetings neighbors and friends,

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority is holding a special meeting Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. in City Hall’s Room 250 (Legislative Chamber) to discuss reprogramming of $4.846 million in federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds originally appropriated to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for the Second Street Streetscape project through the Congestion Management Agency (CMA) Block Grant program.

I’m sending this message out to neighbors in the hopes that one or two of the recipients will attend the meeting and speak when the opportunity arises about the importance and need to improve 2nd Street for pedestrians, bicyclists, and to help ease traffic congestion. However, we also expect the SFMTA to include the neighborhood as a partner in planning the improvements in the future. The main message is that 2nd Street is an important artery connecting AT&T ballpark to Market Street, and please look for funding opportunities in the future.

See the agenda here: http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/1095

Now for some history …
As you may recall, in 2009, the SoMa waterfront neighborhood was very concerned about plans to add bicycle lanes to 2nd Street because it sounded an awful lot like the goal of making 2nd Street wonderful and safe was overriding the unintended consequences of increased dangers for pedestrians in Rincon Hill, Yerba Buena, South Park, and South Beach with the elimination of left turns and additional car congestion that would logically result from forcing 3 right turns to achieve the same result as one left turn during evening peak hours that would come along with the bike lanes on 2nd Street. It also did not help that the gentleman from the SFMTA who spoke at our neighborhood association meeting was just about the most condescending, arrogant guy they could have found to send out to talk to residents.

We organized and spoke out at the SFMTA Board meeting, and the result was the SFMTA Board approved all the new bike lane plans except for 2nd Street. The Board instructed staff to perform additional outreach to our community before moving forward any bike lane implementations on 2nd Street.

So, I seem to recall we had one meeting with the SFMTA at the end of 2009, and then there was silence until last summer when I accidentally learned that SFMTA had handed off plans to redo the streetscape of 2nd Street to the Department of Public Works …. and oh what a surprise that was to hear when I thought the Agency had learned from the 2009 experience to not dismiss the community in SoMa.

Well, the neighborhood association folks got in touch with DPW. When the DPW folks learned that the plans had not been vetted by the community, it seems they tossed that hot potato back to the SFMTA … and here we are in 2012 with still no sincere community outreach from SFMTA regarding 2nd Street and how to improve it for bicyclists, pedestrians, and others while not creating additional hell for pedestrians on the streets east and west of 2nd Street in SoMa.

However, I want to give credit to the SFMTA for making a lot of great changes to the pedestrian experience at many intersections along the SoMa waterfront. You may notice that a lot of the crosswalk signals have a longer countdown and may provide a few seconds advance for pedestrians to begin crossing before the adjacent car traffic gets a green light. There’s definitely more goodwill between the SFMTA and the SoMa waterfront neighborhoods today than there was in 2009.

We need 2nd Street improved, and hope the SFCTA will keep us in mind for future funding … but we also insist on being involved in the planning process because we live with the unintended consequences 24 hours a day, 7 days a week …

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