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Agency approves one-block extension of 4th Street transit-only lane

Muni’s trip down 4th Street will soon take less time with a one-block extension of a transit-only lane between Market and Mission streets.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors Tuesday approved the traffic configuration to extend a transit-only lane on 4th Street to Howard and Folsom streets as the street-level Central Subway construction winds down.

A SFMTA staff report said the transit agency is getting ready to restripe traffic lanes as crews begin removing construction equipment near the future site of the Yerba Buena/Moscone Central Subway transit stop.

Steve Boland, project manager for the 4th Street Transit Improvement Project, said the new traffic configuration will speed up Muni bus travel time down the congested corridor.

Prior to Central Subway construction activities, traffic lanes were configured where Muni buses shared a transit-only lane with vehicles making a right turn at the intersection of 4th and Howard streets.

Muni buses were provided a transit-only lane during peak evening commute times at Howard and Clementina streets.

That will now change with buses given access to a full-time dedicated red transit-only lane that will extend to Folsom Street, Boland said.

4th Street is one of The City’s busiest corridors with five Muni bus routes that travel through the area. According to SFMTA reporting, the combined five Muni routes support average weekday ridership of more than 70,000 boardings.

While SFMTA board directors supported the project, Director Steve Heminger said he would have liked to see a bike lane included in the project. The bike lane could happen later as part of the Central SoMa Plan, which calls for upzoning in new development areas and 4th street safety improvements.

Heminger would like to see the additional safety improvements happen sooner rather than later. Heminger said:

“It does strike me that we hear the answer, ‘We’re going to try do that later,’ quite a bit. It seems to me we have to start turning the corner and doing the stuff now. I just hope I don’t see too many more of these items coming back with that answer.”

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  1. With the construction winding down, it would’ve been nice to have a bike lane going down 4th from the Stockton tunnel to Caltrain given that we showed that traffic has already adjusted to reduced number of lanes down this corridor.

    1. In my opinion the priority should be wider sidewalks in the area, as currently there are a really large number of pedestrians at times with a quite narrow sidewalk. And with protected bike lanes on 2nd and soon to be under construction 5th st, plus the bike infrastructure on Townsend, there are some alternatives for bikes. I do think we should make sure that bike lanes on 2nd through 4th on Townsend get more attention though.

      1. One problem is lack of a pedestrian crossing on west side of 4th forcing everyone on the east side.

        Not sure if you noticed, but both sides of sidewalk have been widened between Townsend and Bryant.

        1. I am not sure to where you are referring, but at least the north side of 4th st has not been widened. They repaved in front of the palms since they did some utility relocation there for the central subway, and they cut down a bunch of street trees along the public right of way in front of 601 4th st to make room for electrical poles for the central subway. They also redid the curb cuts which is nice. But as far as I can tell the sidewalk is still the same width from building to curb (although if/when construction begins at the creamery and at the Wells Fargo/Starbucks locations, the developments will widen the sidewalks in that area with private money).

        2. If you were to walk along the left side of 4th from Caltrain to Market, you’d soon see that there’s pedestrian crossing across all the streets.

        3. I thought we were talking about sidewalk widening. But as far as crossings are concerned there is a missing pedestrian crossing if you want to cross fourth street at harrison, i.e. you want to go to kl wines. Not that crossing the highway on ramp there is particularly safe due to the way the intersection is set up.

        4. Yes, I should’ve been clearer. Few walk along that side of the street due to the blockage, plus people feel safer in groups, further reducing the sidewalk usage.

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