News » Development

New direction for Masonic backed

by

comment
Speed factor: The speed limit on Masonic Avenue was lowered to 25 mph, but that has not slowed the pace. - EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Examiner file photo
  • Speed factor: The speed limit on Masonic Avenue was lowered to 25 mph, but that has not slowed the pace.

The removal of parking spots, installation of a grade-separated bike lane and construction of a center median on busy Masonic Avenue are supported by more than three-quarters of the people who responded to a recent survey.

The roadway, which is a major north-south artery in The City, has often concerned community members because of the speed of traffic and high rate of accidents.

Of the 109 residents polled about potential changes to Masonic Avenue, 76 percent said they liked a plan called the Boulevard, which aims to slow down traffic speeds and make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The plan would remove all 167 parking spots on Masonic Avenue between Geary Boulevard and Fell Street and add dedicated bike lanes in their place. Tree-filled medians and traffic bulb-outs, which shorten the distance of pedestrian crossings, would help to slow down the flow of vehicles on the street, according to documents from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Also, the Boulevard plan includes a proposal to add a public green space at Geary Boulevard and Masonic Avenue, across the street from a new Target store that is proposed to open in 2012.

“The Boulevard plan would open up Masonic in a way that residents would be able to use it much more,” said Michael Helquist, a neighborhood resident who manages a blog called Bike NOPA. Despite leading an effort to reduce the speed limit on the street from 30 to 25 mph, residents along Masonic still complain about the fast pace of traffic. In fact, an SFMTA study found that average speeds have not decreased since the limit was lowered.

“Masonic is not a very pleasant place if you live right on it,” said Jarie Bolander, president of the North Panhandle Neighborhood Association.

Bolander said the association has not taken an official stance on the Masonic Avenue rebuild, but the organization would support any proposal backed by people who actually live on the street.

“Parking is always a pretty sensitive issue here,” Bolander said. “Hopefully the MTA and the neighbors can come to some form of consensus on it.”

The SFMTA is expected to finish its final report on the Masonic rebuild by the end of the year. From there, it must be approved by the SFMTA’s board of directors and the Planning Commission. If both boards approve the plan, the agencies can begin seeking funding for the project, which is projected to cost $20 million.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Streetscape improvements

There are two proposals on the table to revamp Masonic Avenue:

Boulevard

  • No parking
  • Four traffic lanes
  • Bicycle tracks
  • Median along entire corridor

Gateway

  • East side parking
  • Four traffic lanes
  • Bike lanes
  • Median at gateway intersections

Support survey results                                     

Boulevard Gateway
Strongly like 55% 19%
Somewhat like 21% 45%
Somewhat dislike 8% 28%
Strongly dislike 16% 9%

  Source: SFMTA