Transit agency proposes 19th Avenue subway option, station at SF State campus

The San Francisco County Transit Agency (SFCTA) recommended Monday in a feasibility study that transportation planners opt for a longer subway from Ocean Avenue near St. Francis Circle to SF State, rather than the shorter subway alternative previously considered.

Sustainable Streets, a division of the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, is working on the project to improve M-line transit speed and reduce traffic along the busy corridor by 2022, according to a document from the SFMTA.

“Add up the people who are riding the M-Ocean View and you end up with thousands of people crossing three lanes of traffic,” said SFCTA Project Manager Liz Brisson, who noted that density in the area is expected to triple.

The project, referred to as the 19th Avenue/M-Line Southwest Subway project, in its latest form would cost an estimated $520 million and provide for a faster M-line through four new stations west of 19th Avenue, including one at Stonestown Galleria, another at SF State and two in Parkmerced, according to the SFCTA study.

“You have these major M-line stations at Winston and Holloway in the median even though the vast majority of the riders want to be on the west side,” said SFMTA Transit Planner Frank Markowitz at a public hearing April 1, “but they have to cross.”

Transportation planners could decide to place the SF State station near the Science Building or on Holloway Avenue at the northeast corner of Parkmerced, according to the SFCTA study.

An outbound M-line would descend into a subway tunnel after St. Francis Circle, move underground toward a station at Stonestown Galleria and surface at the top of campus in a passageway shared with busses and shuttles, according to the study.

Northbound passage would differ with the train breaching in Parkmerced, just south of Holloway Avenue, according to the study. Holloway Avenue would be closed to vehicle traffic at 19th Avenue, while Crespi Drive in Parkmerced would serve in its place.

To connect to the Ingleside District, the light rail vehicle would cross Junipero Serra Boulevard at Randolph street via a bridge shared with pedestrians and cyclists, according to the study. San Francisco transportation planners previously considered an expensive tunnel alternative underneath Junipero Serra Boulevard.

“The agreements of Parkmerced required us to look at transportation improvements to the 19th Avenue corridor above and beyond that project,” said Manager of the SFMTA Urban Planning Initiatives Peter Albert at a public hearing April 1. “We’ve done that.”

In conjunction with Stonestown Galleria owners, SF State officials and Parkmerced investors, the SFMTA project began in 2008 when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors requested that officials prepare for increased density along the 19th Avenue corridor, according to the study.

“The Parkmerced development heads committed to design and construct that portion,” said Markowitz. “A value of roughly $70 million and SF State has also offered nearly $2 million to contribute to the upgrade.”

The impact on housing in Parkmerced includes the demolition and replacement of 1,538 units as well as the construction of 5,679 new units, according to the development agreement between Parkmerced investors and the city of San Francisco. 1,683 of the current units will remain untouched in the process.

“This is such a key gateway to San Francisco from the southwest and yet there are these pedestrian friendliness and attractiveness issues,” said Markowitz. “We’re transitioning from the feasibility study. Now we’re moving into the pre-environmental review that will be led by the MTA.”

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