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San Francisco Roundup: HSR Update, Slow Streets, Trees

2:00 PM PST on February 8, 2021

High-speed rail enters new phase

The California High-Speed Rail project got its best news in over a decade when election victories in Georgia handed control of the U.S. Senate to the Democrats. Coupled with 'Amtrak Joe's' inauguration, things are now looking bright for completing the project. In that context, next week the Authority will release its newest business plan update.

Screenshot from 2021-02-05 12-27-18

According to a release and update letter from the agency's CEO, the project will soon have spent "100 percent of the required state match for $2.5 billion in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds achieved in the first quarter of 2021 (22 months ahead of deadline)" meaning, despite the misinformation sown by HSR opponents, the project is fulfilling its obligations and will continue to be eligible for federal investments. In addition, things are on schedule for the all-important "Environmental clearance of our first two segments into Los Angeles County with the Record of Decision (ROD) for Bakersfield to Palmdale planned in the second quarter of 2021 and for Burbank to Los Angeles in the fourth quarter of 2021."

That means this project, with over 117 miles already under active construction, will be in an excellent position to receive billions more in stimulus construction dollars from the federal government and Pete Buttigieg's Department of Transportation.

Take the 'slow streets' survey and/or contact your supervisor

Image: SFMTA
Image: SFMTA

Advocates are pushing hard to start making 'slow streets' permanent in San Francisco. From a Walk San Francisco post:

...cities around the world that have made notable progress in reducing severe and fatal crashes, car-free and car-lite spaces are always part of the equation. It’s part of redesigning streets to prioritize safety, especially for the most vulnerable – and make walking and biking much more inviting.

All of this is why Walk San Francisco supports making a network of Slow Streets a long-term solution. And big news: SFMTA is now considering making some Slow Streets permanent, starting with Page, Shotwell, and Sanchez.

City surveys on making Page and Shotwell are closed, but Walk S.F. urges people to take the Sanchez Street survey (open until February 22), which includes a question about making Sanchez a permanent 'slow street.' They also urge everyone to share their love of slow streets with their Supervisor.

And may we have some more trees, please

Image from FUF
Image from FUF

Streets lined with trees, and the shade they provide, make for better walking environments and more inviting neighborhoods. They are an integral part of traffic calming measures to slow traffic and increase safety. They're also nature's way of taking carbon out of the air. As Al Gore said, “The best available technology for pulling carbon dioxide from the air is something called a tree.”

That's why the advocates at Friend of the Urban Forest are pushing for funding to plant more street trees in San Francisco.

From a FUF blog post:

Sometimes the urban forest needs advocates -- people who can “speak for the trees." This is one of those times: the City is seeking public input on its Climate Action Plan. You and other friends of the urban forest have made a difference in the past, when we've asked you to push City Hall to take better care of our urban forest... You'd think it's obvious that planting trees--which sequester carbon and produce oxygen--is one of the most cost-effective climate solutions available to us. But for decades the City has failed to make a serious investment in tree planting. We rank almost last among major U.S. cities in the percentage of land area covered by trees.

"In 2015, San Francisco adopted an Urban Forest Plan that called for planting 50,000 more street trees by 2035," continues the statement. "That's an excellent and achievable goal, assuming it's backed up with funding. But it wasn't."

FUF wants advocates to take the San Francisco Climate Action survey and ask the city for more street trees.

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