The Road Forward for the L Taraval Improvement Project

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Thursday, April 4, 2024

We see artwork on a new L Taraval accessible boarding platform with a freshly paved road beside it and the word "slow."
Crews completed Segment A of the L Taraval Improvement Project on time in 2021. The area now has new rail tracks, accessible boarding islands and freshly paved roads. Segment B is nearing completion and will include similar upgrades.  

We’ve been making great progress on the L Taraval Improvement Project. A massive amount of work is being done along the Taraval corridor to make it safer and more accessible for people who walk, bike and take Muni. We know this has been challenging for neighborhood businesses and residents. But the good news is that we’re turning a page on this critically needed work, and some cool new features are coming to Taraval Street soon.  

Infographic shows Segment B timeline for Taraval project. Bus shuttles operate into 2024, when sewer and water upgrades conclude. Track work and other safety upgrades also end in 2024.

The most disruptive parts of construction are almost done and the project is on track to be completed this fall. 

Below ground: utility upgrades 

Taraval Street is getting a complete makeover, from about 10 feet below the street to 30 feet above. It’s a once-in-a-generation investment on a corridor that hasn’t seen any major improvements in decades. Many of the utility lines were over a century old and the sewer and water pipes had to be completely replaced. This work will avoid costly failures and ensure taps and toilets flow smoothly for the next 100 years. Utility work is intensive and time-consuming, but thankfully we’re already 99% done with this multi-agency effort. 

At the surface: transit, safety and accessibility improvements 

We’re doing a ton of work at the surface level, both functional and cosmetic. We’re upgrading the train tracks for Muni’s L Taraval line for the first time in almost 50 years. These new rails have a stronger foundation that will make for a smoother, quieter ride. They also require less maintenance than the old tile and ballast trackway. The track work is already 95% complete.  

Taraval Street is on the high-injury network, the 12% streets that account for 68% of the city’s severe and fatal traffic crashes. To address this, we’ve started building nine new boarding platforms along Muni’s L Taraval route. This means riders will no longer have to exit the train onto the street alongside traffic. We’re also making three platforms longer so that more people can wait on them.  

People with limited mobility will board easily at “key stops.” These stops will have accessible boarding platforms with an elevated section that is level with the train. The platforms will also have new Muni shelters with Next Generation real-time displays.   

Some intersection corners are also getting new curb ramps, high-visibility crosswalks and Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS). “Pedestrian bulb-outs” will widen the sidewalk at intersection corners. This shortens the distance to cross the street. It also slows vehicles making right turns, making intersections safer for all who use them.  

Community involvement: beautification  

One of the most visible and exciting features of the project are the streetscape elements, chosen with community input. They include new trees, streetlights, decorative pavers and public art. Starting in May, Taraval Street will be repaved from curb to curb, making for a smoother ride for everyone. Repaving is the last portion of the project that will require street closures, but it can be done quickly in only two or three days per block.  

Example of artwork on the new boarding islands along the L Taraval line. Various blue and green tiles portray a water body and waves.
When the L Taraval Improvement Project is completed this fall, some of the boarding islands will have artwork like this mosaic installed on the first segment of the project. 

Up above: new traffic signals and overhead contact lines 

If you look up, you’ll also start to see new features above the street. Five new traffic signals with train-detecting technology will be installed at key intersections. 45 new streetlights with upgraded LED lighting are also being added. 

And what about those street poles and overhead wires? Those are part of the Overhead Contact System (OCS) that powers the trains. They’re showing signs of damage from years in the foggy Sunset climate and are being completely replaced.  

Map graphic shows segment A of the Taraval project spanning SF Zoo to Sunset Boulevard. Segment B shows Sunset Boulevard to West Portal. Segment A completion date is July 2021. Segment B completion set for Fall 2024.

The project was broken into two segments to reduce impacts. This changed the timing of work along the eastern portion of the corridor, but not the overall duration.  

Segment A on the west side of the corridor was completed in July 2021 on time and on budget. We’re similarly on schedule for the second phase of work, from Sunset Boulevard to West Portal, to be completed this fall. 

Business support 

We know that major construction projects can pose real challenges for merchants, and we’re committed to helping small businesses. To help attract customers to the corridor during construction, the SFMTA launched the Go Local campaign with ads on buses, bus shelters and social media.  

We’ve partnered with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to create a Taraval Resource Guide that gives businesses a snapshot of how to sign up for construction updates and learn about assistance OEWD can provide. OEWD also worked with the community to launch a “Take Time for Taraval” marketing campaign. This included Taraval BINGO games and raffle events. A Shop Dine SF website was also created to highlight small businesses. 

We also want to thank Supervisors Joel Engardio and Myrna Melgar for their partnership as we support business owners on the corridor. Together with Mayor London Breed, they helped direct $1 million in relief funding for Taraval small businesses. 

We see the Parkside Outer Sunset "Go Local" campaign poster on the side of a Muni bus. It features pizza chains and surfers and the shore as well as Muni vehicles.
SFMTA's "Go Local" campaign promoted small businesses with ads on buses, bus shelters and social media.   

New rail replacement work at 46th Avenue 

While crews are working on the corridor and buses are replacing train service, we’re taking the opportunity to replace a section of curve and crossover tracks at the intersection of Taraval and 46th Avenue. We expect this work will start in May and take about five weeks to complete.  

Graphic shows Taraval project progress: 12,000 ft of new sewer lines, 19,000 water lines replaced, 14,000 ft of tracks replaced, 12 boarding islands, 11 pedestrian buib-outs and 123 new trees.
We're thrilled about the progress on Taraval -- from 14,000 feet of new tracks to 123 new trees.

The most disruptive parts of construction on Taraval — utilities and rail installation — are almost done. A few more months of work are needed to finish the boarding islands, streetscape elements and repaving, but the SFMTA, partner agencies and contractor NTK Construction are working hard to finish on schedule. Crews will test the new tracks and boarding islands this summer to ensure everything is in perfect shape for the public to ride L Taraval trains again starting this fall.  

Soon, we’ll all be able to enjoy a revitalized corridor that is safer, greener and easier for everyone to get around.