Get ready for traffic snarl as Van Ness BRT construction starts this month


File this under “It’ll Get Worse Before It Gets Better.” Construction on the Van Ness BRT (bus rapid transit) is about to start this month, changing the center two lanes on Van Ness to bus-only. One block to the east, Polk Street will also undergo construction to improve sidewalks, bike lanes, and other features. The construction is set to take place mostly during week days, so you can expect traffic congestion on both streets. And in case you make the mistake of driving on Van Ness (or just … driving), there will be no left turns.

The Van Ness Improvement project‘s dedicated transit lanes will be for use by Muni and Golden Gate Transit, physically separated from “mixed traffic lanes.” There will also be new boarding islands, new traffic signals prioritizing transit, and pedestrian safety additions such as shortening crossing distances, zebra-striped sidewalks, and audible crossing signals. The SFMTA says that the Van Ness BRT “is expected to cut travel times for the 49 and 47 Muni routes by 32 percent.” Construction is expected to wrap by 2019.

According to SFist, the nearby Polk Streescape Project will remove 106 parking spaces along the corridor and 28 on side streets. You’ll see construction work on Polk between Beach and McAllister starting this month. No lanes are being removed, and the good news is that there is a long list of improvements for pedestrians, Muni riders, and cyclists:

Repaving, street base repair, sidewalk corner bulb-outs, to shorten the crossing distance, ADA-compliant curb ramp upgrades, Muni bus stop optimization; such as bus stop consolidation or relocation, bus bulb-outs for easier boarding, and left and right turn lanes to improve traffic flow, raised cycle tracks, green bike lanes, sewer replacements, water line replacement, traffic signal upgrades, high visibility crosswalks, better visibility at crosswalks, commercial-loading improvements, landscaping, tree planting, street lighting and alley enhancements to Fern Alley, to enhance the pedestrian and bicyclist experience with the creation of a well-lit plaza atmosphere, widening of the existing sidewalk, decorative asphalt, raised crosswalks, traffic calming measures and planting of palm trees.

Photo via SFMTA

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