Civil Grand Jury Probes Delays in Van Ness Improvement Project

Wikimedia user Pi.1415926535/CC BY-SA 4.0

Red bus transit lanes on Van Ness Avenue north of Golden Gate Avenue in December 2020.

Construction has been under way for years on the Van Ness Improvement Project, which is expected to bring bus rapid transit and other infrastructure upgrades to a major city thoroughfare. The project went millions of dollars over its initial budget and several years over time. This year’s civil grand jury, a volunteer government oversight body, chose to focus one of its reports on the project to try to get a clear picture of what happened. The city’s transit agency acknowledged the work of the jury but said it improperly described the role of a contractor on a project of this scale and complexity. Juror Judy Sanderlin detailed some of the findings of the report, titled “Van Ness Avenue: What Lies Beneath,” on “Civic.”

“The underground work was the primary reason for the delay. What happened was the contractor went in not knowing what they were going to find, and they kept digging sections of road, one after another after another in hopes of finding a stretch of road that they could actually work on. Instead, every time they dug they found something new, and moved to another block and found something new. So what happened was all this digging was happening and no work was being done.”

— Judi Sanderlin

A segment from our radio show and podcast, “Civic.” Listen at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 102.5 FM in San Francisco, or online at, and subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify or Stitcher

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