Track Replacement on the L Taraval Line

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Friday, August 11, 2023

If you’ve traveled through the Sunset or Parkside neighborhoods recently, you may have seen a lot of construction activity on Taraval Street. Major construction projects are an inconvenience, and the impacts seem to be never ending. You may wonder, why does it take so long

We would like to thank everyone for your ongoing patience and understanding as the L Taraval Improvement Project to replace aging infrastructure continues. Since we announced the beginning of the second segment of improvements on Taraval Street in January 2022, we’ve been busy wrapping up upgrades to the sewer and water lines, underground conduits and new pole foundations for the Overhead Contact System (OCS) that powers our Muni trains. We have also installed the necessary infrastructure to upgrade existing electrical for the trains, current and future streetlights and light poles.

We’ve now begun work on some of the above-ground improvements that you’ll be soon able to experience for yourself when the project is completed next year. To improve safety and accessibility, we’re upgrading existing boarding islands and adding additional islands that are ADA compliant. We are also making curb ramp upgrades, adding pedestrian bulbs and paving streets. To beautify the street, new trees and landscaping will be planted. We’re completely replacing the worn tracks that were initially installed in 1975. This will make your ride smoother and more reliable. You can learn more about 100 years of rail on Taraval.  

A rail track under construction with orange bollards on each side. 

Track installation between 28th and 31st avenues in 2023.

Track Replacement Work

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the tracks replaced in the City’s 150 rail infrastructure. San Francisco’s unique rail system dates back 150 years and ties together our cable cars, historic electric street cars and today’s modern Muni light rail service. Over the years, our rail maintenance team has been vigilant in keeping the rails in good working condition for as long as possible. Now the tracks are at the end of their useful life, and we are replacing the rails and upgrading our rail system to keep our trains operating smoothly well into the 21st century. 

Track work between 16th and 19th avenues has begun, and the middle of Taraval Street will be closed to traffic traveling north- and southbound on 17th and 18th Avenues across Taraval Street for excavation work. East- and westbound lanes will remain open and traffic approaching Taraval Street will be allowed right turns only. 

Note: that some L Taraval Bus stops may be temporarily relocated in active construction areas; please look for signs posted at bus stops.  

A rail track is under construction with orange bollards on each side.

Track excavation between 28th and 31st avenues in 2023.

On Monday, August 14, we will do a “rail pull” -- literally pulling the rails from the current staging location on Wawona Street and 20th Avenue for installation on Taraval Street between 16th and 19th avenues. The rails have been assembled from 100-yard rods into 400-yard “strings” ready for installation. We will use two loaders to push and pull the rails from storage, guide the strings down 21st Avenue and turn onto Taraval Street. Each rail segment is over a block long, so moving them to their new home will be quite a feat.  

A map of where the rail pull and installation will occur.

There will be intermittent temporary traffic delays along the pull route and at the intersection of 19th and Taraval Street. So, if you’re in the neighborhood on Monday, August 14, please try to avoid driving along the rail pull route. Or better yet, grab a bite to eat from one of Taraval’s excellent restaurants and watch history being made from the sidelines! If you miss this rail pull, stay tuned for the next one by signing up for project updates.