Community to Celebrate Cesar Chavez Streetscape Makeover

January 28, 2014
Contact: Rachel Gordon, 415-554-6045

Corridor improvements benefit pedestrians, cyclists, neighbors and the environment

San Francisco, CA –The community and City and state officials will gather on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, to dedicate the Cesar Chavez Streetscape Improvement Project, which creates a safer corridor for pedestrians and cyclists. The upgrades also include greening elements to beautify the once-bleak stretch of roadway and make it more environmentally sustainable.

Invited speakers include District 9 Supervisor David Campos, District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, neighborhood activist Fran Taylor of CC Puede and Polly Escovedo from the state Natural Resources Agency. Cheryl Brinkman, vice chair of the Municipal Transportation Agency Board, will emcee.

What: Cesar Chavez Streetscape dedication
Date: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Sí Se Puede Plaza
3047 Mission St., NE corner of Mission & Capp streets @ Cesar Chavez Street
Photo opportunity: Mariachi band, streetscape improvements

Residents actively sought the neighborhood improvements along the 1-mile stretch of Cesar Chavez from Guerrero to Hampshire streets that is fronted by residences, schools, a church, a hospital and small businesses. The changes were designed to calm traffic and demonstrate that Cesar Chavez is a residential street, not just a way to get to and from the freeway to the east.

“Cesar Chavez Street is one of the most traveled roads in San Francisco, and, with its renovation, we get to honor the legacy of a civil rights hero and serve the community that lives there,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “We now have a neighborhood-friendly streetscape that is greener, more inviting and enhances safety for people who walk and bike at its core. I thank the neighbors who helped us envision a new streetscape that unites a neighborhood.”

The pedestrian enhancements include three dozen bulb-outs that widen the sidewalk at intersections to shorten the crossing distance; widened medians where people can wait safely to cross the street if they can’t make it in one traffic-signal cycle; and raised crosswalks at two intersections to increase driver awareness.

Other upgrades include new bike lanes, left-turn pockets for motorists, new and rehabilitated sewers and new paving along the entire stretch to make the ride safer and smoother for all users. Traffic lanes were reduced from three in each direction to two.

In addition, several environmentally smart design elements were incorporated. Among them: storm-water planters and pervious pavement to allow rainwater to percolate through the ground to put less burden on the sewer system; and 302 new street trees and 7,600 plants along the median and the sidewalks. In all, 38,620 sq. ft. of concrete and asphalt were converted to green space. Streetlights along the corridor also were upgraded to LED for energy efficiency.

The streetscape improvements cost $12 million; the sewer improvements added another $16 million.

The planned sewer and paving improvements set for Cesar Chavez Street opened the door to transforming the corridor to better serve the neighborhood. The community-involved design process began in 2008, and, after completion of environmental reviews, construction commenced three years later, first with the sewer work and then with the streetscape enhancements.

“Cesar Chavez Street has functioned for decades as a freeway on the ground. And freeways have no room for people on foot, on a bicycle, or living in a home. That freeway mentality told us we didn’t belong on our own residential street full of children, hospital patients, and other vulnerable users,” said Fran Taylor, co-chair of CC Puede, a neighborhood group involved in the design process. “The new streetscape has all kinds of reminders that we do belong, that people live here and have a right to walk safely. It doesn’t feel like a freeway anymore.”

The project was led by San Francisco Public Works and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, in partnership with City Planning and the Municipal Transportation Agency. Funding came from a variety of sources: the City’s general fund, PUC ratepayers and federal and state grants, including one of the first greening grants of its kind awarded by the state’s Strategic Growth Council under Proposition 84.

“When we talk about improving urban livability, we can proudly point to Cesar Chavez Street,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “This is one of our busiest corridors, used by tens of thousands of cars and trucks every day. Now it is safer for pedestrian and cyclists and a much more pleasant, welcoming environment.”

About San Francisco Public Works: The 24/7 City agency cleans and resurfaces streets; plants and nurtures City-maintained street trees; designs, constructs and maintains City-owned facilities; inspects streets and sidewalks; builds curb ramps; eradicates graffiti; partners with neighborhoods; trains people for jobs; greens the right-of-way; and educates our communities.