News Notes: Town hall scheduled tonight to discuss Richmond district bus, pedestrian improvements

Residents, merchants and those anxious over the transformation of one of San Francisco’s most traveled corridors will have a chance to voice their concerns at tonight’s discussion of the Geary Bus Rapid Transit system.

Co-hosted by Supervisor Eric Mar and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the meeting will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Richmond Recreation Center, 251 18th Ave. The forum also will address pedestrian and street improvements included in the project.

“The Geary Bus Rapid Transit project will improve the efficiency and reliability to the most traveled bus line in San Francisco," Mar said. "More riders will take advantage of faster and more reliable Geary Blvd buses. We need community residents to work with us and city staff to ensure that pedestrian and street improvements also move forward with the implementation of BRT."

As the longest uninterrupted east-west artery in the city, Geary Boulevard transforms as it traverses from the ocean to the Financial District — from a six-lane, two-way roadway cutting through the Richmond and the Western Addition to a three-lane, westbound-only street downtown.

By introducing a dedicated transit lane along the boulevard’s widest portion —between 33rd and Van Ness avenues — the transportation authority said it anticipates congestion will be relieved along the entire length of the corridor, which is also the city’s second most widely traveled street, carrying an estimated 55,000 daily transit riders.

Competing with light rail plans in terms of efficiency and cost effectiveness, the Geary BRT would provide real-time travel information, install high quality stations and utilize traffic signal optimization to help maintain the flow of vehicles.

While residents and businesses could benefit from these improvements, the implementation of the new bus system also could translate to a loss of parking along the commercial corridor and result traffic changes in adjacent streets, according to the transportation authority.

Planning for the BRT began in 2004. The authority is about to embark on the environmental impact analysis of the project, which will help identify some of these potential impacts. Engineering and construction phases of the project only can begin once the environmental analysis process refines the project alternatives.

Although the transportation authority also is evaluating a bus rapid transit line along Van Ness Avenue, the Geary BRT is poised to be the first of its kind in the city, with a target opening date of 2012. 



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