Crews race to finish Market Street work by SF Pride

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 19, 2024
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Crews worked at the intersection of Fifth and Market streets Tuesday morning. Photo: Cynthia Laird
Crews worked at the intersection of Fifth and Market streets Tuesday morning. Photo: Cynthia Laird

The Bay Area's wet winter caused havoc on the construction schedule for the pedestrian safety enhancements being built along Market Street. It pushed the timeline for completing work on the main thoroughfare through San Francisco's downtown further into the summer months.

It also meant that the project would run head-on into the city's Pride weekend at the end of June. The annual LGBTQ celebration brings hundreds of thousands of spectators to Market Street between Beale and Eighth streets to watch the parade, taking place this year Sunday, June 30.

Now crews are racing to finish work on several components of what is known as the Better Market Street project ahead of the LGBTQ celebration. They have been given a deadline of Friday, June 28, to wrap up the construction already underway and clear out in order not to impact the parade.

Asked by the Bay Area Reporter about the ongoing construction project with Pride weekend fast approaching, San Francisco Public Works spokesperson Ben Peterson expressed confidence it would not interrupt the festivities. He noted the current work is focused solely on the sidewalks at several Market Street intersections and not on the lanes of traffic along the roadway.

"We are not currently performing any work on the roadway of Market Street, so there will be no impacts or obstacles to parade floats or others participating in the parade," noted Peterson in an emailed reply June 17.

He added, "We've instructed our contractor to not start any new work that they don't expect to be complete before the weekend of the 29th-30th to ensure that there are no exposed excavation areas during Pride festivities."

Between now and then Peterson said the city agency will be working with the project's contractor on condensing and cleaning up all construction areas along Market Street so there is plenty of sidewalk viewing space for Pride attendees and parade viewers.

"This includes removing all unneeded construction equipment and materials from the site, temporarily covering or erecting barricades around any open construction areas, and generally making sure there is no construction-related debris in the area. Our #1 goal is to make the area as clean, clear, and safe for all attendees," stressed Peterson.

The first phase of the $60 million project was initially slated to wrap up this past winter. But a June 14 emailed update noted that additional work needed on the stretch of Market between Seventh Street and McAllister/Jones streets, as well as the "stormier than expected winter," resulted in "a few unexpected delays to construction" so phase 1 construction is now expected "to be complete in late summer 2024."

At the moment the bulk of the work is focused in the Mid-Market area between Fifth and Eighth streets. Granite curb installation, curb ramp construction, and sidewalk work are underway at the Market and 5th Street/Cyril Magnin intersection.

By the end of this week, sidewalk reconstruction should be finished at the southwest corner of Market and Fifth streets. Crews are then to install a new curb ramp and reconstruct part of the surrounding sidewalk at the northwest corner of Market and Cyril Magnin streets with the work finished ahead of Pride weekend.

Also set to wrap up by then is the curb and sidewalk work taking place at the southeast corner of Market and Fifth streets. New curb ramps and pavers at the Market, Turk, and Mason streets intersection should also be completed by the end of this week.

The added work for the block of Market between Seventh and McAllister/Jones streets is focused on the north side. It includes the construction of new curb ramps, the installation of new granite curbs, and reconstruction of the gutter area and a portion of the sidewalk.

"At the same time, we will begin similar work at the northeast and northwest corners of the Market Street and 7th Street intersection. We expect this work to last through the middle of July," noted the project team in its email.

Second phase

The second phase of the Better Market Street project entails a new turn-back loop for the F Line historic streetcars along McAllister Street and Charles J Brenham Place. It will allow for more frequent trains along the route's busiest stretch, between Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf, according to the project team.

The historic trolleys' southern terminus is in the city's Castro district. It is a popular way for tourists staying downtown to travel to the LGBTQ neighborhood.

Construction on that part of the project isn't slated to begin until late 2025 at the earliest. The timeline is dependent on the city securing funds for the work.

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