There's a small sign posted on a pole at Cesar Chavez and Church Streets announcing a hearing about a proposed traffic signal for that intersection. Pretty big news, right? There have been calls for a stoplight at 24th/Church, but this is the first we've heard of one at this busy intersection. Our initial reaction is that it's not necessary unless it can smooth the interaction of pedestrian traffic on Church and all the cars trying to get to 101. Otherwise, this intersection flows pretty smoothly. So where did this proposal come from? Follow us down the rabbit hole (and watch out for PDFs).
Remember the SFMTA's Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP)? When we covered it in 2008 the main issue was bus routes - there was a strong push to alter routes and eliminate stops to speed up the service. Then in 2012 the J Church line was included in Muni Forward's Travel Time Reduction Proposal (TTRP). Basically, the proposal aims to speed the J Church along its route by reducing stops, relocating boarding areas, creating transit-only lanes and (this is the key part) including "traffic calming" at certain intersections (more on that below). The SFMTA study says changes will "reduce the travel time of the J Church within the study area by about 6.5 minutes total in both directions."
Projects like this are never easy in San Francisco, and of course there was an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The huge public response sent everyone back to the drawing board, and many changes were made (for fellow planning dorks here are the three huge PDFs documenting response to public feedback: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). The end result is that the amended EIR was approved with changes on May 22, 2014.
The August 1 hearing is asking the public to approve one of those traffic signals without addressing the rest of the J Church route.
If you have an opinion on this traffic light want your voice heard please attend the August 1 hearing at City Hall: 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 416 at 10:00am.
Can't make the hearing? Per SFMTA hearing guidelines (emphasis ours):
Opinions on these proposed changes may be filed in writing prior to the hearing by email (link to firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line “Public Hearing.” Written opinions may also be transmitted to the Sustainable Streets Division via fax at 415.701.4737 or by mail: Engineering Public Hearing, Sustainable Streets Division, One South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103-5417. Submitted opinions will become part of the official public record and will be brought to the attention of the person(s) conducting the hearing.