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Release date: 2/7/11

*** Press Release ***

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates the Municipal Railway (Muni) and all surface transportation in San Francisco, announced today that it has given contractor Synergy Project Management, Inc. authorization to make adjustments to their construction methods for the utility relocation construction in Union Square. The adjustment will require restricting Stockton Street to one lane of traffic one block at a time between Sutter and Market streets for the next 10 months; all private automobiles will be detoured around the area for the duration of construction starting Wednesday, Feb. 9.

Pedestrians will be rerouted off the Stockton Street sidewalk to a protective walkway on the street created by two types of protective barricades. The six-foot-high, wooden barricades adjacent to the construction zone will provide a buffer for noise, equipment exhaust and dust. The barricades will also provide store signage to the nearby businesses. The second barricades, situated next to the traffic lane, will be heavy, water-filled traffic safety barriers separating pedestrians from traffic.

The SFMTA conducted meetings with local businesses and members of the Union Square Business Improvement District (BID) who agreed with these modifications as they will provide additional safety to pedestrians shopping in the area, potentially decrease construction duration and keep the streets cleaner.

“This project represents one of the largest investments in San Francisco transit infrastructure in recent history," said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA Executive Director/CEO. “We will continue to work with the communities along the Central Subway route to ensure that the construction process is as smooth as possible."

“Union Square merchants are pleased that the SFMTA will install six-foot-high, wood and plexiglass barriers branded with the logos of the store fronts in lieu of just using the more traditional orange barriers,” said Linda Mjellem, Union Square BID Executive Director. “The look of the wooden barriers is more compatible with our retail district and will provide additional safety to our shoppers.”

Preparation for the utility relocation construction work for the Union Square/Market Street area began on Monday, Jan. 31. This work requires relocating all underground utilities from the street to underneath the sidewalks along Stockton Street. The SFMTA anticipates that construction on Stockton Street and on nearby streets will continue through June 2012. The Central Subway utility relocation is part of the $1.57 billion Central Subway Project, Phase 2 of the Third Street Light Rail Project.

The work area will include Stockton Street between Sutter and Market streets, including side streets on Sutter, Geary, Post, O’Farrell, Ellis, Market streets and Maiden Lane. The contractor will maintain pedestrian access to all businesses during business hours. Those traveling or working in the area can expect an increase in noise, dust and traffic as a result of the construction.

The Union Square utility relocation work includes moving underground utilities from under the street to under the sidewalk. Sidewalks along Stockton Street will be removed in phases for this work. At the end of the utility relocation work, the sidewalks will be restored with temporary standard City concrete sidewalks in anticipation of the future Central Subway Union Square Station construction. The removal of utilities from underneath the street allows for the future excavation of the subway station without impacting utility service for nearby residents and businesses.

The construction work will begin at the southeast corner of Geary and Stockton streets. The work will proceed along the east side of the street, one block at a time down Stockton Street to Market Street. The work will then continue back up the opposite side of Stockton Street to Union Square. Once the work south of Geary is complete, the construction will continue north along the east side of Stockton Street from Geary Street to Post Street.

Construction is scheduled to continue seven days per week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although night work may be necessary. Noise and dust will be kept to a minimum.

The businesses along the construction route will remain open. The contractor will always maintain safe pedestrian access to all stores during business hours and construction directly in front of store entrances will not be done during business hours. The Central Subway Project will provide identification signs for affected businesses.

Standard traffic signs will be used to detour pedestrian and vehicle traffic and variable message signs will be placed on Geary Street, O’Farrell Street and Stockton Street to inform approaching traffic of detour routes. Detour signs will include directions to nearby parking garages.

Traffic Impacts

  • At all times only one lane of traffic will be available on Stockton Street between Sutter and Market streets.
  • The open lane of traffic on Stockton Street will be available for Muni buses, taxis, tour buses and delivery trucks only.
  • All private automobiles going to 4th Street and other SoMa destinations will be required to take one of two detours.
  • Two traffic detour options will be in place to allow better access to the Union Square area and to aid the flow of traffic (.PDF).
    • Option 1: Divert west on Sutter Street, south on Mason Street, east on Eddy Street, south on Cyril Magnin Street and crossing Market to 5th Street, east on Folsom Street, and south on 4th Street
    • Option 2: Divert east on Post Street, south on Montgomery Street to New Montgomery Street, west on Howard Street and south on 4th Street.
  • Parking Control Officers and off-duty SFPD Officers will be on hand to direct traffic.
  • Garages within the construction zone will also be open and accessible.

Muni Service Impacts

  • During the utility relocation, the following Muni routes may experience delays, but will be able to continue their routes on Stockton Street:
    • 8X Bayshore Express
    • 30 Stockton
    • 45 Union-Stockton
    The first section of the utility relocation began with 4th Street last January. The finishing work on that portion of the project between Bryant and Howard streets will be completed by the end of April. This work prepares the street and surrounding area for the construction of the Moscone Station and the subway portal under I-80.

The “Moscone Station and Portal Utility Relocation” for $9.3 million was awarded to Synergy Project Management, Inc., a San Francisco company.

The Central Subway is Phase 2 of the Third Street Light Rail Project. When service begins, this 1.7-mile extension of the existing T Third Line will connect communities from Visitacion Valley to Chinatown with modern, convenient light rail service. The improved service will decrease transit travel times, relieve congestion, enhance the environment, stimulate economic activity along the corridor and provide thousands of much-needed jobs along the way.

The project has consistently received positive reviews as part of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts program. The Central Subway has received $72 million in New Starts federal funding to date. Environmental clearance of the project was granted by the FTA in November 2008, while approval to begin final design was granted January, 2010. The total project cost, with contingency, is expected to be $1.57 billion, with the federal government contributing close to $1 billion. The Central Subway is scheduled to open to the public in 2018.

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