Construction at Mission Streets last years caused some detours. Photo by Jamie Goldberg

At a recent community meeting, Alex Murillo of the Department of Public Works (DPW) uttered words that caused the crowd to gasp in unison: Mission Street will be repaved.

That’s not all, he told the crowd — 24th, Folsom and 17th streets are also set for major work this year. Work that will include trenching and temporary removal of parking, he added. To reduce the impact, it will be done in phases, by blocks.

The work on Mission Street, one of the most popular commercial corridors in the city, is a coordinated effort between several agencies. DPW will repave it from 16th Street to Cesar Chavez Street and conduct other base repairs. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will replace water mains between 17th and 21st streets, and PG&E will replaced old gas pipes from 20th to Cesar Chavez.

Work along Mission Street is set to begin in March and will last six months, according to DPW.

Muni buses that run along Mission Street, including the 14 Mission — the third busiest line in the city — and the 49 Van Ness-Mission, will be rerouted onto South Van Ness Avenue.

“This will allow us to complete the work sooner and will help ensure on-time performance by Muni, since they won’t face construction delays on Mission Street,” Murillo said.

Among the most disturbing aspects of the construction will be the removal of street parking and the trenching along the street.

“Our work is going to be phased to maintain as much street parking as possible; however, temporary removal of street parking on a block is necessary to complete the work and maintain the traffic lanes. We will restore street parking as soon as possible,” Murillo said. “DPW and the contractor are fully aware of that concern and will do everything within our power to minimize any impact. ”

For decades, major streets like Mission have been neglected, Mayor Ed Lee said at a recent community meeting. And it shows — much of the street’s surface is uneven, cracked and littered with potholes.

The average pavement condition score for that stretch of Mission is 45 out of a possible 100. The average condition score for the city is 63, which is ranked as fair.

Improvements Come at a Cost for Businesses

Businesses along Mission Street interviewed by Mission Loc@l did not know the specifics of the plan. Generally they like the improvements, but were wary about the impacts it would have on business.

At El Rancho Grande Appliance on Cesar Chavez, for example, business is down 75 percent since work began there in October, according to owner Jorge Bermudez.

“I know it’s for progress and one always expects the best,” he said. “I felt the impact on my wallet. During the time of construction we endured a crisis.”

Business only got worse in January, when San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) officials took Bermudez’s designated commercial parking on Bryant Street so the bus could make a turn on Cesar Chavez. Bermudez sells and repairs large home appliances, and his customers couldn’t drop off or load items.

“That was the drop that spilled the cup,” he said. “Had it continued for two more months, I would have definitively gone bankrupt. “

Murillo, who is known for giving out his cellphone number to residents, said he understands the impacts construction will have on businesses.

“It is our goal to complete the work on time, within budget and with the least impact to the public,” he said. “We phase the contractor’s work and place limits on the work zone to ensure the work duration at any given area is as short as possible. DPW also makes staff available to address any immediate concerns from the public.”

Bermudez went to a community meeting and pleaded his case to Murillo, who had not heard about the situation. The next day, SFMTA staff removed the no-parking restriction by his business.

Bermudez said he is grateful for the help, and now that sewer construction work has moved away from his block, he can breathe easy.

“Business has definitely improved, but it’s not back to normal,” he said.

Unforeseen delays due to weather or construction complications have been an issue with other major construction projects in the district.

The Valencia Streetscape project was set to last nine months but took almost a year. During that time, businesses struggled to attract customers to messy worksite areas.

Other Projects

Work along 17th Street between Dolores and Mission will begin next month, and is set to last six months. The project’s exact cost could not be ascertained by publication time, but funding will come from a half-cent local transportation sales tax raised by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

DPW will not repave a stretch of 17th from Bryant to Folsom because it was recently repaved.

In February of last year, the SFMTA painted bike lanes on 17th Street. Painting a bike lane twice might sound redundant to some, but it is necessary to ensure rider safety, Murillo said.

“Given that 17th Street is a major thoroughfare for bicyclists, a decision was made to stripe the bike lanes,” he said. “Although a paving project may be on the horizon, sometimes it may be necessary to re-stripe crosswalks or stop lines prior to the start of construction to ensure public safety.”

The Folsom Streetscape Improvement Project will be a major overhaul of the street from 19th Street to Cesar Chavez. Improvements include traffic signal upgrades, resurfacing and pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements, as well as 44 new trees. The project is set to start in the summer and is scheduled to last six months.

The project will also include some sewer work, which began this week on Folsom from 22nd to 24th Street and from 25th to Cesar Chavez. Funding for the $5.44 million project comes from a federal CMA block grant and Proposition K funds.

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Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

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  1. –For DECADES, major streets like Mission Street have been NEGLECTED, Mayor Ed Lee said at a recent community meeting– He must be talking about when the poor underrepresented people lived my whole life. Of course NOW, with all the bourgeoisie relocating to the area, IT MUST BE DONE!!

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    1. So, if infrastructural maintenance lags, that proves the proletariat is ignored. But if infrastructural maintenance goes ahead, that proves catering to the bourgeoisie. What’s a Mayor to do?

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  2. I hope they take this excellent opportunity to improve the bus stops too. And eliminate several of them. What are those stops called where the curb extends out so the bus doesn’t have to pull in and out of traffic?

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  3. Paving Mission will be fantastic! It is a great street for bicycle traffic, the curb lane is always blocked by double parked cars turning it into a de facto bike lane. (The only problem being the horrible pavement.

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    1. Valencia’s got great bike lanes and the “green wave”. Do we really need more lanes on Mission Street, with the buses and all?

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