Watch CBS News

Muni Construction Project Snarls Stretches Of Van Ness

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- One of the most traveled streets in San Francisco and the Bay Area is getting transformed, but the construction project is turning some sections of Van Ness Avenue into parking lots.

The three-year construction project spans from Lombard Street all the way to Mission Street.

The SFMTA has released drawings of what Van Ness Avenue will look like in the future.

What's Next SF? BRT MUNI by SFGovTV on YouTube

According to the SFMTA website, construction was supposed to start on October 24, but the contractor was delayed getting permits.

Work started Friday night and commuters are already feeling traffic fatigue.

You can see the heavy traffic along Van Ness near Pacific. Signs posted up and down Van Ness signal that left turns are no longer allowed on the majority of the roadway.

The only places where drivers can turn left are at Broadway, Hayes, and Lombard streets.

Drivers told KPIX 5 it is going to take a lot of getting used to, business owners worry it could shut them down.

"It's gonna be a big mess, I think," said one commuter.

The new orange signs outside Round Table Pizza are giving restaurant owner Amir Shayesth anxiety.

"It's always been tough in San Francisco to park and deliver pizzas, but with this project its going to get much tougher," said Shayesth.

This week, Van Ness will temporarily shrink from three lanes to two as the SFMTA continues what's known as the Van Ness Improvement Project.

When it's finished in 2019, a rapid Muni bus will run down the middle of the road. More trees will be planted and left turns will remain nearly eliminated.

"Cars won't have to wait for cars to make a left turn," said Paul Rose with the SFMTA. "They won't have to wait for buses to get out of bus zones and we're increasing service along the corridor. So altogether, it could save up to 15 minutes and 32 percent off travel time."

Rose said the project will also make Van Ness -- one of the most accident-prone streets in San Francisco -- a safer place for pedestrians.

Some drivers who know the area well were on board with the plan.

"I think it will help with traffic, but right now it's quite an adjustment," said Jamie Pindulic of San Francisco

Business owners worry they won't survive the growing pains necessary to finish this project by 2019.

"Surviving two years is hard," said Shayesth. "We don't know what to do"

One problem raised by several people Monday is that map applications still tell drivers they can turn left along Van Ness. SFMTA is working with technology companies to address that oversight.

This is also just the start of the project. The major construction will commence in January.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.