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Page Street “Neighborhood Way” Project Mysteriously Put on Hold

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

As part of its "neighborhood way" project, a plan to make Page Street safer that dates back several years, SFMTA was supposed to install traffic diverters at Stanyan, Divisidaro, and Masonic by last spring. But Divisadero was mysteriously dropped from the project. Stanyan and Masonic were put on hold after an engineering hearing last week (PDF). "They didn't give a reason why," said Molly Hayden, an advocate who lives just off Page.

The delays are part of a pattern seen on Lake Street, Valencia, McAllister, and elsewhere where approved safety and transit improvement projects have either been put on hold or reversed. Supervisor Dean Preston wrote an email followed up by a formal letter to SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin demanding to know what happened on Page. From the email, dated May 27, which was recently forwarded by Preston's office to Streetsblog:

On December 14 the Transportation [Authority] via my request dedicated $325,000 in Prop K funds to implement new safety measures, conduct public outreach, field testing (evaluation of temporary traffic safety measures), and final approvals for traffic safety investments on and adjacent to Page Street between Stanyan and Gough streets.

The project timeline outlined by the SFMTA said that you would seek approvals for the new traffic diversions approvals in early 2022 and the implementation of these new measures, including traffic diversion at signalized intersections on Page Street (at Stanyan, Masonic, Divisadero) would happen in the Spring of 2022.

It is my understanding that these approvals have not yet been secured or set for a hearing, and therefore could be months away from being installed. We had also hoped that a conversation about art/community installations would have led to some clear guidelines by now.

In addition, while the short term changes proposed by the SFMTA are an important step, I still would also at some point like to see a more ambitious longer term plan that includes changes to the hardscape/infrastructure, potentially including physical barriers to cars at one end of each block.

Back to the immediate project: Please let me know what, if anything is standing in the way of moving this project forward, when we can expect the short-term changes to be presented, approved, and implemented by the MTA.

As reported as far back as 2017, hearings were held on a design to make Page Street safer, especially around schools. There were also plans for speed tables. But the only "permanent" installation that ever came to be are the soft-hit diverters at Page and Laguna and Page and Octavia to turn that block into a one-way for cars and a two-way for cyclists. That one block treatment, while welcome, is routinely violated by motorists.

As part of the pandemic emergency, Page was declared a "slow street," albeit absent any of the infrastructure promised in the neighborhood way plan. But even then, local advocates have done much of the installations and heavy lifting. "We put concrete in buckets and made signs with lumber," said Hayden.

Photo: Molly Hayden
Local residents poured concrete buckets to bolster SFMTA's plastic signs, seen in the distant background. Photo: Molly Hayden

Streetsblog has reached out to SFMTA for answers on the diverters and will update this post.

Update 7/19, 10:30 a.m. in a Tweet sent Tuesday morning, SFMTA's Casey Hildreth writes that the Stanyan and Masonic diverters will be installed this summer. Divisadero remains an open question.

However, Preston's office and advocates told Streetsblog that they have been stonewalled for months. "We're not getting any transparency," said an audibly frustrated Preston Kilgore, a staffer in Dean Preston's office, in a phone call with Streetsblog. "We approved this in December. It was supposed to be implemented by end of spring, but none of that has happened."

The Laguna diverter represents the only tangible SFMTA element of the "Neighborhood way" project that's been installed, after at least seven years of outreach and planning. Photo: SFMTA
The Laguna diverter represents the only tangible "neighborhood way" project element that SFMTA has installed, after at least seven years of outreach and planning. Photo: SFMTA

This certainly isn't a question of public support. From SFMTA's web page on the project:

Almost 900 people responded to the Page Street Bikeway Improvements survey (complete summary). 77% say their sense of safety and neighborhood livability have increased. Approximately 85% of respondents support permanently limiting through traffic on Page Street; 75% strongly support it.

"We're tired," added Hayden. "We're tired of asking for the bare minimum; for cars for once to be inconvenienced so we can be safe. That's asking too much apparently."

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