Friday, April 30, 2010

MTA's Fell/Arco Proposal Clears Hurdle; Funding Secured, Implementation Expected In June with Green Bike Lane in August

One more review and then a curbside queue and a safer green bike lane

Plan to address "hazardous conditions" created by Arco: Supervisor Mirkarimi

The traffic design changes proposed by the MTA for Fell Street near the Arco gas station cleared a significant hurdle Friday morning when an MTA hearing officer approved the safety plan and sent it to the agency's board of directors for final review. A curbside queue will be created just east of the entry to the Arco station for motorists waiting to purchase gas. Two parking spaces between the Arco entry and exit on Fell will become permanent tow-away zones and parking in four residential spaces just east of Arco will be a designated tow-away zone from 7am to 7pm daily. The MTA, along with bicycle and pedestrian advocates, hope the changes will significantly reduce the current hazardous conditions that result with motorists lining up for Arco and blocking a traffic lane and the busy bicycle lane on Fell Street. A warning sign to keep the sidewalk clear will also be posted. MTA traffic engineer James Shahamiri told BIKE NOPA that the full MTA board would likely consider the proposal in June. He hoped to see implementation "immediately" once the board approves the plan as expected.

Yesterday Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi sent a letter of support for the plan to Bond Yee, MTA Director of Transportation Engineering. Mirkarimi described the current conditions on Fell Street represented risks that are "unacceptable and must be rectified." He emphasized that the problems were created by the Arco gas station and the Quality Tune Up shop, not the nearby residents. Mirkarimi applauded the compromise proposal that limits the tow-away period for the residential parking spaces. "I believe this is a good compromise that should address the safety issues while minimizing impact on parking in the neighborhood."

At this morning's hearing, three individuals spoke in favor of the compromise. Jeremy Pollack, aide to Mirkarimi, presented the supervisor's position. Marc Caswell of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the plan was a reasonable compromise that should be monitored for effectiveness, and NOPA resident Dale Danley noted that the changes will begin to accomplish some of the goals to protect cyclists using the bike lane. No one spoke in opposition.

With no opposition, hearing officer John Newlin approved the plan and sent it to the MTA Board. James Shahamiri expects the board to hear the proposal in June. "I hope it will be implemented immediately afterwards," he added. The agency obtained approval for funding to initiate the plan last week, according to Mirkarimi. The Fell/Arco changes will be financed with grant funds as most MTA projects are.

Bicycle advocates have been following the MTA plan closely for its improved safety aspects and also because it includes the city's first green bike lane for enhanced safety. The painted lane will extend a full block from Scott to Divisadero Street. Shahamiri said the agency intends to conduct a before-and-after study related to the bike lane and thus will delay the green swath for two months for the initial study phase. If implementation and approval follow according to plan, cyclists could be going green by August of this year.

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