SAN FRANCISCO—On April 2, San Francisco Mayor London Breed was joined by safe streets advocates, merchants, neighbors and city leaders to celebrate the completion of the Polk Streetscape Project. The project improves safety for those traveling on Polk Street and enhanced the character of the region by improving lighting, landscaping and street infrastructure. According to the Mayor’s Office, the transformative 1.8-mile project stretches along Polk Street from Beach to McAllister Streets.
“With the completion of this streetscape project, we are taking a big step forward in making Polk Street safer and more enjoyable for everyone who uses it,” said Mayor Breed. “We will continue to evaluate Polk Street to determine what improvements can be added to help us achieve our safety goals. Moving forward, we must find ways to deliver these types of safety projects faster, which is why I have directed the SFMTA to implement simple, easy-to-install safety improvements as quickly as possible.”
Polk Street has some of the highest bicycle and pedestrian collision rates in San Francisco. On average, one person walking and one person cycling are hit by a vehicle each month on Polk Street—122 over a five-year period—and the region has been prioritized for safety improvements under San Francisco’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims for eliminating traffic-related fatalities by 2024.
Construction on the two-year, $26.8 million project started in October 2016 and the majority was completed in December 2018, with final work completed in April. Planning for the project started in August 2012 and included a two-year public engagement process that consisted of more than 60 meetings with residents, merchants, community groups and advocacy organizations.
“The Polk Streetscape project is the culmination of many hours and years of dedicated outreach, planning, design and construction efforts. Through community input and technical evaluation, the street now includes corridor-wide safety improvements and streetscape amenities,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “The Polk Streetscape project improves bicycle, pedestrian and transit rider safety on a notable High Injury Corridor.”
“San Francisco Public Works was proud to collaborate and partner with numerous City agencies to deliver key safety improvements and beautification elements that will benefit everyone who visits and travels on Polk Street,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, “The project serves as a great example of [a] successful partnership with the community and City agencies to better our neighborhoods.”
The Polk Streetscape Project includes numerous safety enhancements and utility improvements, including 30 blocks of improved bike lanes, 136 new street trees, more than 3,800 linear feet of upgraded sewer main and over 5,700 linear feet of upgraded water main. The project improved 160 curb ramps to bolster ADA accessibility; upgraded traffic signals at nine intersections; installed 81 new street lights and refurbished 31 existing lights; and resurfaced the entire stretch of roadway.
For the Fern Street Art Alley, San Francisco Public Works’ landscape architecture team worked closely with the Lower Polk Community Benefit District and Lower Polk Neighbors to identify and choose nine art-centric quotes that were incorporated into the design of the decorative pavement inlay.
“The Lower Polk Community selected a diverse range of meaningful quotes from notable art and creative icons,” said Christian Martin, executive director of the Lower Polk Community Benefit District.
Featured quotes include Keith Haring’s “The public has a right to art… Art is for everybody”; Ruth Asawa’s “Art is doing. Art deals directly with life”; and Toni Morrison’s “Your life is already artful-waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.”
For more details on the project, visit https://www.sfpublicworks.org/polk.
Written By Casey Jacobs