Mayor London Breed and City Leaders Unveil Polk Streetscape Project
Project will create a safer, more vibrant Polk Street Corridor
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed joined City leaders, safe streets advocates, neighbors, and merchants at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to celebrate the completion of the Polk Streetscape Project, which improves safety for everyone traveling on Polk Street and builds on the corridor’s vibrant commercial character by investing in new lighting, landscaping and street infrastructure.
The transformative 1.8-mile project stretches along Polk Street from Beach to McAllister Streets, with additional enhancements on numerous side streets and alleyways.
“With the completion of this streetscape project, we are taking a big step forward in making Polk Street safer and more enjoyable for everyone who uses it,” said Mayor Breed. “We will continue to evaluate Polk Street to determine what improvements can be added to help us achieve our safety goals. Moving forward, we must find ways to deliver these types of safety projects faster, which is why I have directed the SFMTA to implement simple, easy-to-install safety improvements as quickly as possible.”
Polk Street is a thriving neighborhood and commercial corridor that serves an important transportation function for San Francisco. It also has some of the highest pedestrian and bicycle collision rates in the City. On average, one person walking and one person cycling are hit by a vehicle each month on Polk Street—122 over a five-year period—and the corridor has been prioritized for safety improvements under San Francisco’s Vision Zero initiative, which calls for eliminating traffic-related fatalities by 2024.
The ribbon cutting took place at a new art alley on Fern Street that is part of the Lower Polk Alleyways District Vision Plan in the heart of the Lower Polk neighborhood. Surrounded by new plantings and colorful displays of art, Mayor Breed gathered with other City officials and representatives from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, the Lower Polk Community Benefit District and neighbors to commemorate the multi-agency project, which touches three supervisorial districts and has been guided by community support since its inception.
Construction on the two-year, $26.8 million project began in October 2016 and was largely completed in December 2018, with final work completed this month. Planning began in August 2012 and involved a two-year public engagement process that consisted of more than 60 meetings with residents, merchants, community groups and advocacy organizations.
“The Polk Streetscape project is the culmination of many hours and years of dedicated outreach, planning, design and construction efforts. Through community input and technical evaluation, the street now includes corridor-wide safety improvements and streetscape amenities,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “The Polk Streetscape project improves bicycle, pedestrian and transit rider safety on a notable High Injury Corridor.”
“San Francisco Public Works was proud to collaborate and partner with numerous City agencies to deliver key safety improvements and beautification elements that will benefit everyone who visits and travels on Polk Street,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, “The project serves as a great example of successful partnership with the community and City agencies to better our neighborhoods.”
The Polk Streetscape Project features numerous safety enhancements and utility improvements, including 30 blocks of improved bike lanes, 136 new street trees, more than 3,800 linear feet of upgraded sewer main and more than 5,700 linear feet of upgraded water main. The project also improved 160 curb ramps to bolster ADA accessibility; upgraded traffic signals at nine intersections; installed 81 new street lights and refurbished 31 existing lights; and resurfaced the entire stretch of roadway.
For the Fern Street Art Alley, San Francisco Public Works’ landscape architecture team worked closely with the Lower Polk Community Benefit District and Lower Polk Neighbors to identify and select nine art-centric quotes that were incorporated into the design of the decorative pavement inlay.
“The Lower Polk Community selected a diverse range of meaningful quotes from notable art and creative icons,” said Christian Martin, executive director of the Lower Polk Community Benefit District.
Featured quotes include Keith Haring’s “The public has a right to art… Art is for everybody”; Ruth Asawa’s “Art is doing. Art deals directly with life”; and Toni Morrison’s “Your life is already artful-waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.”
For more information on the project, please visit https://www.sfpublicworks.org/polk.