After six months of extensive repairs, the Mission Street renovation is set to finish today, with Muni buses resuming their normal route along Mission Street tomorrow.
The $1.8 million project involved three city agencies and finished on time and within budget, said Department of Public Works (DPW) spokesman Alex Murillo.
The project fixed what Mayor Ed Lee had called “decades of neglect” in a community meeting with Mission residents in July of last year.
“Before, we could have probably rented out Mission Street to NASA so they can practice driving rovers like the moon,” said Phillip Lesser, vice president for governmental affairs of the Mission Merchants Association, a project supporter.
Lesser believes the project had minimal impact on businesses along Mission Street because most of the work went on underground, with surface repaving confined to one month in September.
Parking spots, bus lanes and bike lanes remain largely unchanged, since most of the infrastructure repairs occurred above and below Mission.
“One notable change will be the new bus bulbs at the 24th Street BART plaza and curb ramps along Mission Street,” said Murillo. Bus bulbs are concrete extensions of the sidewalk that allow buses to pick up and drop off passengers without having to pull over.
The DPW worked with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) on Mission between 16th and Cesar Chavez streets.
In October of last year, PG&E replaced aging gas lines with corrosion- and earthquake-resistant pipes underneath Mission Street. The SFPUC replaced existing water mains along Mission Street and the DPW repaved Mission Street between 16th Street and Cesar Chavez.
The rerouting of the 14-Mission, 14L-Mission and 49-Mission/Van Ness Muni buses during the project caused the most disruption, with business along Mission Street claiming a decline in customers and commuters expressing confusion at the new route.
The SFMTA used the rerouting as an opportunity to conduct street and online surveys to assess customer experiences, according to SFMTA transit communications manager Lulu Feliciano.
“I have heard from a few commuters that the route is actually quicker on its temporary route. While the route is quicker on South Van Ness, the extra turns and distance to get to South Van Ness makes the overall trip longer,” said Feliciano.
The SFMTA is also assessing the rerouted performance on South Van Ness to see if there is anything Muni can apply to Mission Street to “reduce congestion and improve reliability,” he said.
Feliciano, who also works for the Transit Effectiveness Project at the SFMTA, has developed proposals to reduce travel times and improve reliability in the heavily trafficked Mission corridor, which serves an average of 60,000 passengers every weekday.
“Like the conditions on South Van Ness, it includes widening lanes, fewer stops and also looking at a dedicated transit lane. We look forward to an ongoing community dialogue about these improvements,” said Feliciano.
But some Muni riders maintain that the temporary route provides a quicker commute. “It’s a lot faster this way,” said 32-year-old Emanuel Vargas, who rides the 14-Mission daily. “I don’t want it to go back to Mission Street because there is so much more traffic.”
Others welcomed the resumption of the older route. “I’m used to the bus on Mission; it’s where I do my shopping and it’s where my friends are,” said Sharron Marsala, a hairstylist from the Mission.
The city isn’t finished with its overhaul of Mission streets. Residents should brace for more projects in January 2013, including the 24th Street sewer and paving project, the Folsom Streetscape Project and the Cesar Chavez Streetscape.
Additional information on each of these projects can be found here.
To take a customer experience survey on the rerouted Muni buses, click here.