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New Signal At Dangerous San Francisco Intersection Doesn't Come Cheap

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Transit officials are fast tracking a plan to install traffic lights at one of San Francisco's most dangerous intersections. Officials said installing traffic lights usually takes years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The light will be installed at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Yorba Street. An elderly man was killed crossing the intersection in February, and two other pedestrians have been hit so far this year.

On Wednesday, workers were prepping the site for the badly needed stoplight, amid questions about why it took so long.

"Originally the time line was for 2015. We told them that was completely not acceptable," said San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang. "And then recently there were two more accidents following the fatality we indicated that was completely not acceptable."

The project was put on the fast track, but why is the wait so long?

"There's a lot of planning that is involved into making this happen," said Paul Rose, spokesperson of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Several steps need to be taken, including selection process and design process. There are community surveys and meetings. Then there is a request for proposals before a contractor is selected.

"It can take anywhere up to three years to get a traffic light in," Rose said. "That's because we have to take the time to make sure that it's right."

"A lot of people think it should just be we lift up the pole and the lights are on. But we really have to do a lot of planning to make sure that the electrical is right, the planning is right and everything is on the same page," Rose said.

It doesn't come cheap. The cost can range from $500,000 to $700,000 per intersection.

"Intersections and corridors in San Francisco are valuable property," Rose said. "We don't just change the light, we change the entire intersection. We try to make the entire intersection as safe as possible."

Given the rising safety issues, some at City Hall said it's time to speed things up.

"Community process, departmental process, and things take too long here," said Supervisor Scott Wiener.

"I'm glad to hear that finally, this is going to be happening quickly," Tang said.

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