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San Francisco Set To Spend $600 Million For Market St. Makeover

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- It sure looks good on paper: a mega-million dollar makeover of San Francisco's mid-Market Street with new bikes lanes, trolley tracks and sidewalk seating right in the heart of the Twitter tax break zone.

The idea is to get cars off the main drag and make it more bike and pedestrian friendly while at the same time making some needed repairs to the water, sewer and other utility lines.

"We are using this opportunity to upgrade everything so for next 100 years," said San Francisco Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru.

But it's not going to come cheap. The overall cost is estimated at $600 million.

The first three-block-long phase is priced at $79 million, or about $26 million a block.

And while that may sound like a lot, "For the level of improvements that are going to be made is really not that expensive," said Nuru. "We are going to put in new waterlines, new sidewalks."

Not everyone agrees.

"It will mean ripping up Market Street for years," said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who heads the county transportation authority.

Peskin said some of the work is needed, such as the creation of a new trolley power substation and replacing the tracks on the aging historic F line.

His fear, however, is that with all of the other add-ons, the project could wind up being another mega-project like the Central Subway, the Van Ness bus corridor remake or the Transbay Terminal that have disrupted businesses for years.

"The concern, frankly, is that it is going to come in way over budget," Peskin said.

The project has just received a $15 million dollar grant from the feds, but it is still far from being fully funded.

"We are going to have to do some scrambling to get the money, but the project is being done in phases," said Nuru. "Yes, there is a bit of a headache now, but hopefully it won't last long and we will be able to have nice streets."

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