S.F. planners consider 19th Avenue subway
Travel time along the M-Ocean View Muni Metro line averages just 8 to 9 mph along 19th Avenue, where it has to contend with traffic signals and congestion around San Francisco State and Stonestown Galleria. Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle
To catch a Muni train on 19th Avenue, S.F. State students, Stonestown shoppers and others must cross three lanes of traffic. Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
With the Central Subway well under construction, San Francisco transportation planners are eyeing a possible 19th Avenue subway to speed travel on the sluggish M-Ocean View Muni Metro line.
A recently completed feasibility study recommends building a subway from St. Francis Circle south to San Francisco State University, with stations at Stonestown Galleria and the university. Along the university campus, one track would be below ground and one would be at street level.
The tracks would be extended at ground level through Parkmerced, crossing Junipero Serra Boulevard on a bridge and then traveling at street level to rejoin the existing M line at Randolph Street.
Building a subway beneath 19th Avenue could help solve two problems: a painfully slow stretch of light-rail line and a dangerous length of highway that forces San Francisco State students, Stonestown shoppers and other riders to cross three lanes of traffic to catch a train.
The M-Ocean View, which carries about 27,000 riders a day, averages just 8 to 9 mph along 19th Avenue, where it has to contend with traffic signals. It travels from downtown to the Balboa Park Muni and BART Station via West Portal, 19th Avenue and the Ocean View neighborhood.
The MTA will continue looking into the subway with a $1 million preliminary environmental study and a Caltrans project report required for work on 19th Avenue, which is part of the state highway system.
Should the agency decide to go ahead with the subway, design and construction would follow - when funding is available. The soonest the project could be completed, the feasibility study says, is 2022.
Competition for funding will be stiff, both within the city and the Bay Area, because of the expense and the number of transportation projects seeking funding. But the study says the subway would compete well because of promised investment from the university, which would contribute $1.8 million to help pay for a new station, and Parkmerced developers, as well as its location on a state highway and in an area targeted for high-density development.
Development plans for Parkmerced, south of the San Francisco State campus, call for taking the M line tracks off 19th Avenue and into the development with a station inside the neighborhood complex.
The feasibility study also considered keeping the M line all at ground level and building a shorter subway that would emerge before the university and continue at street level with a tunnel beneath 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard.
But it concluded the recommended longer subway would reduce travel times along 19th Avenue on the M line by 35 to 45 percent; provide an extra 30 to 50 feet for wider sidewalks, bike paths and bus loading; provide more pedestrian crossings; and create a new bike and pedestrian link between Parkmerced and Ocean View on the light-rail bridge.