The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency had its first public meeting of 2016 at the Seven Hills Conference Center to discuss the 19th Avenue/M Ocean View Project, which plans to realign the M-Ocean View Muni line in order to accommodate the growing SF State population and make 19th Avenue safer and more accessible.
“Our overall goal is to make Muni faster, less crowded, and more reliable,” said project manager Liz Brisson. “We’re taking note of all comments and questions.”
The project’s main goal is to move the entire M-Ocean View line underground. The earliest construction was previously expected to begin by 2020 according to the SFMTA’s 2014 final report, but has since been pushed back to an unreleased date.
“This meeting is an update on the project since the feasibility report was completed in 2014,” said transportation planner Cody Hicks. “We’re close to entering the environment review stage and looking for feedback from the community.”
This move, according to Brisson, has several desired results, including reducing overall traffic, creating a more reliable transportation system, improving on conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, and transforming the new space into a greener area for residents to enjoy.
“The boards we have set up show how we want the M line to look,” said supervising engineer Pamela Kwan, referring to several boards set up during the meeting that detailed parts of the proposal. “Along with more stations alongside Stonestown and other parts of 19th Avenue, we want to take the whole line underground.”
“It’s safe to say that 19th Avenue is not working for anyone,” said Brisson. “Our proposal hopes to eliminate the factors that create those really memorable bad commute days.”
The project is currently conducting its pre-environmental study, which consists of further refinement of project details.
The project was first conceptualized after two city plans were adopted regarding optimal land use and growth of the residential areas along 19th Avenue. One of the plans was a development agreement between Parkmerced and the city to construct roughly 5,600 housing units in the area. After concerns about changes to transportation and the initial proposal of the project, Parkmerced committed to investing $70 million to transportation infrastructure in support.
The SFMTA devoted the next two years to research, and will collect information to determine feasible options for restructuring 19th Avenue to be more transit-friendly. Parkmerced initially agreed to baseline improvement of the M-Ocean View line through the addition of another segment that would run between Holloway Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard as part of their development deal. However, further consideration of other transportation options led to the SFMTA revising the proposal.
“The Thursday meeting is the first of four being held, with three others occurring between now and February 25,” said SFMTA Spokesperson and Media Relations Manager Paul Rose.
Also on the agenda was a question and answer session facilitated by Brisson, which addressed general questions and concerns that arose after the completion of the 19th Avenue Transit Study Final Report in 2014.
On their website, the SFMTA says it plans to use the meetings to unveil further refinements to the project and keep people updated on further developments.
“These are very dramatic changes we are proposing,” said Brisson. “They’re not happening this year or the next year or the year after that. In the meantime, we’re working on incremental improvements to 19th Avenue to alleviate some of the issues our project plans to fix.”