Noe Valley Voice December-January 2010

Work on Cesar Chavez May Start This Spring

By Corrie M. Anders 

The effort to transform Cesar Chavez Street from a busy thoroughfare to a calmer, tree-lined boulevard has taken another step toward reality.

A hearing officer with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved the ambitious plan last month and sent the proposal to the full SFMTA board for final okay.

The action followed a Nov. 19 City Hall hearing in which a majority of the 25 or so neighborhood residents who attended spoke in support of remaking Cesar Chavez.

“A couple of people were concerned about traffic changes relating to Leonard Flynn Elementary School, but not to the point of not wanting to make it happen,” said Kris Opbroek, manager of the city’s Great Streets Program.

“I think it’s a really smart, thoughtful project,” said Guerrero Street resident Gillian Gillett of the San Jose/Guerrero Coalition to Save Our Streets, a grassroots organization that has been lobbying several years for the improvements. “We might be getting a new level of construction and design.”

The street is a major artery for residents and workers in the Mission, Bernal Heights, and Noe Valley. Traffic-choked during rush hour and accident-prone, the one-mile stretch of Cesar Chavez between Guerrero and Hampshire streets will have a completely new look if the $7 million redesign is given the green light.

To make the road safer and more people-friendly, the project calls for wider sidewalks, a widened landscaped median, and two lanes of traffic in each direction instead of the present three. It would also feature bike lanes, “bulbouts,” and changes to left-turn lanes.

The work would be part of a two-stage process, lasting about two years. First, the city’s Public Utilities Commission will construct a second major sewer line under Cesar Chavez Street and reline an existing pipeline. That job is expected to start this spring, Opbroek said, with work on the streetscape project to begin next fall.

Opbroek said the board would hold public hearings sometime in January. For more information, visit index.aspx?page=1166.