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Eyes on the Station: Balboa Park BART Improvements

9:46 AM PST on December 3, 2018

BART officials held a ceremony this morning to mark the completion of an $18.7 million package of improvements to the Balboa Park station.

The roof of the station, previously open to the elements--and lots of pigeons--is now enclosed with glass and the crossbeams are covered in stainless steel cladding, so the station's mezzanine is bathed in direct and reflected sunlight. There's also a steel and glass head-house (seen below) to let in even more light while keeping out the area's notorious dampness and wind.

The station, used by 25,000 riders daily, had been partially boarded up since May of 2016, when the project overhaul began.

The glass roof of the station's new headhouse
The glass roof of the station's new headhouse
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There are many other changes as well, including a new bridge over the BART tracks to provide easier pedestrian flow between BART and a new Muni platform for the K Ingleside and J Church lines.

"The main point is to improve connections with Muni and make a safe passageway to Ocean Avenue," explained Mike Wong, Project Manager for BART. "Before this, riders had to navigate on pavement that was inches from moving [Muni] trains."

Muni riders on the J and K can now get off at this new platform, cross over the BART tracks, and get to their BART trains much more quickly
Muni riders on the J and K can now get off at this new platform, cross over the BART tracks, and get to their BART trains much more quickly
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This sheltered crossing on the Ocean side of the station lets riders transfer more easily from Muni to BART
This sheltered crossing on the Ocean side of the station lets riders transfer more easily from Muni to BART
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There's also a wider pathway from the Ocean Ave. side to the Geneva side of the station. Previously, the only way to get between the streets (without entering the paid-fare area) was on a passageway on the westside of the station along the ramps of I-280. That pathway has stairs; it is inaccessible to people in wheelchairs.

The old passageway on the westside has several sets of stairs
The old passageway on the westside has several sets of stairs, is exposed to the elements, and isn't a very nice place to walk
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BART also unveiled a memorial wall plaque honoring community advocate Anthony G. Sacco, as seen below:

The plaque
The plaque for Anthony G. Sacco.
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The station improvements also include new folding gates that can be raised and lowered to secure the system when it closes for the night.

Folding gates can now be closed at night to better protect the station
Folding gates can now be closed at night to better protect the station
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There's also better lighting, way-finding, real-time displays, and the addition of a mid-station entrance.

While all these improvements are, no doubt, welcomed by riders, access to inbound K and J trains is still wanting. Passengers still have an awkward pathway to navigate to the platforms located on the east side of the Muni yards, along San Jose Avenue.

And there's the matter of I-280, with its on and off ramps, which makes for poor pedestrian and bicycle access to the station. But hopefully ongoing work by SFMTA can start to address some of those deficiencies. For a little more on long-term hopes to cap I-280 and move SFMTA's adjacent yard and maintenance facility, so that the area around the station can be developed in the future, check out Streetsblog's story from 2016.

A couple more pics of the station improvements below:

New glass skylights let in more light while protecting the station from the elements
New glass skylights let in more light while protecting the station from the elements
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A look at the station head from Ocean
A look at the station head from Ocean
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