The Embarcadero Enhancement Program
PROJECT STATUS: Central Embarcadero Quick-Build
Implementation of the Central Embarcadero Quick-Build is now substantially complete. This work extends the safety upgrades installed between Howard and Mission streets in 2020 northward to Broadway — tripling the length of the waterfront bikeway!
Crews will make additional minor enhancements based on early feedback, including adding green bikeway paint in front of the Ferry Building, "LOOK" stencils at loading-zone crosswalks, and more flexible posts. Following these further changes and a settling-in period, staff will begin evaluating the project.
The Embarcadero Enhancement Program (EEP) seeks to improve safety, mobility, connectivity, and accessibility for all users of The Embarcadero, which serves as a major transit corridor, tourist destination, marine-oriented commercial district, and public recreation area. The Embarcadero is also a key route into San Francisco’s major business and cultural sites such as the Financial District, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown.
In partnership with the Port, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has spent years engaging with stakeholder groups and the broader public to envision a better, safer Embarcadero. In 2018, this process culminated in a concept design that includes a new two-way protected bikeway and pedestrian safety improvements. In addition, the City began construction on three quick-build projects in late 2020 as part of Vision Zero to expedite safety and mobility improvements.
The SFMTA and Port of San Francisco prioritize the Central Embarcadero segment between Broadway and Bryant Street to connect and extend these improvements. Work along the Southern Embarcadero (south of Bryant Street) is coordinated with future waterfront development projects. The Northern Embarcadero (north of Broadway) will undergo additional public outreach and analysis with a forthcoming circulation study for the Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39 area. More detail on the Northern, Central, and Southern Embarcadero segments is available below.
The Embarcadero corridor (between Lombard and Townsend streets) is also on San Francisco’s Vision Zero High Injury Network (HIN), representing the 13% of city streets where 75% of the severe and fatal injuries occur. In the last five years, 174 reported severe injury collisions and two fatalities on the corridor (along with daily ‘near misses’ on the street and along the promenade).
By adopting a policy called Vision Zero in 2014, the City and County of San Francisco is committed to building better and safer streets, educating the public on traffic safety, enforcing traffic laws, and prioritizing resources to implement effective initiatives that save lives. Vision Zero aims to eliminate all traffic deaths in San Francisco by 2024. The SFMTA prioritizes efforts on the corridors with the highest number of severe and fatal collisions.
The Embarcadero Enhancement Program supports Vision Zero and implements targeted, proven safety improvements on the corridor.
As the Embarcadero continues to evolve to fit the needs of the surrounding areas, so do the City’s values regarding transportation and safety. Busy sidewalks and streets with multiple uses create conflicts, discomfort, and challenges in implementing the Vision Zero Strategy. With those values in mind, the Embarcadero Enhancement Program aims to:
- Safety: Build a safer Embarcadero for all users
- Connectivity: Improve connections between the Embarcadero, nearby neighborhoods, and the region
- Access: Elevate the Embarcadero’s role as a valued destination and workplace for locals, visitors, businesses, maritime and industrial uses
- Economic Recovery: Invest in critical infrastructure to support the renewal and recovery of our City while protecting public health
- Mobility: Providing physical protection and lengthening the bikeway will make it easier to commute and recreate along the waterfront.
CENTRAL EMBARCADERO TIMELINE
The Waterfront Transportation Framework was developed to guide all transportation efforts on and around The Embarcadero and the surrounding waterfront. This informed a phasing strategy for the EEP that is responsive to public comments and current demand to see improvements focused on the highest intensity use areas. This strategy also moves more expensive stages to later years when additional funding or development opportunities may be available to support the high capital cost segment.
Central Embarcadero (Bryant Street to Broadway)
The first phase (Central segment) will be implemented in two distinct sub-phases, with less-intensive construction to start in late 2021 using quick-build techniques (paint, signs, and flexible posts) by city crews, followed by more substantial capital investment and civil construction in 2023-2024. This iterative approach allows for timely implementation of key safety measures and time to evaluate these changes prior to committing to more permanent and expensive civil features.
The Central Embarcadero Quick-Build (previously Phase 1A) will bring near-term safety changes between Mission Street and Broadway. The larger Central Embarcadero Safety Project (previously Phase 1B) is the follow-up capital phase to consider updates to the quick-build segment and the extension of the two-way waterside bikeway from Folsom Street south to Bryant Street.
Southern Embarcadero (Townsend Street to Bryant Street)
The second phase (Southern segment) requires more significant capital investment and changes to the existing promenade and center medians to accommodate a fully protected two-way bikeway. This segment would continue the Central segment southward and connect to the Bay Trail behind the ballpark. The proposed raised bikeway, on the promenade between Harrison and Townsend streets, supports a wider overall promenade width and more adaptability to special event needs. Details still being refined include changes to loading zones and intersection modifications.
Northern Embarcadero (Broadway to North Point Street)
The remaining segment (Northern segment) is currently considered out-of-scope from the EEP due to the complexity of limited right-of-way, inability to meet all intended design criteria established in the project's planning phase, and estimated project costs. SFMTA commits to a separate process (as part of or related to a circulation study in the Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf area) that will re-engage the public to communicate these issues and consider alternative design options and trade-offs.
From 2014 to 2018, the Embarcadero Enhancement project team held dozens of in-person meetings with key stakeholders including the Northeast Waterfront Advisory Group, Central Waterfront Advisory Group, Maritime Commerce Advisory Committee, Ballpark Mission Bay Transportation Committee, San Francisco Hotel Council, SF Travel, SF Tour Guide Guild, South Beach/Rincon/Mission Bay Neighborhood Association, District 3 SFMTA Working Group, Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant Association, as well as individual stakeholders such as the operators of the Ferry Building, Exploratorium, and many others.
During this time, the project team also hosted five public open meetings, including three design workshops where residents, merchants, travelers, and the general public were invited to share their vision of the waterfront, desires for reconfiguring the roadway, and values relating to transportation, open space, and land use. In 2016, over 500 people attended an open house and responded to a survey to help assess bikeway alignment alternatives and other trade-offs, resulting in a conceptual design for a two-way, waterside-protected bikeway adjacent to the promenade.
In October of 2018, approximately 200 people attended an open house showcasing the conceptual design for the project, with 140 people completing a survey to gauge stakeholder support and priorities for the project moving forward. An outreach summary is available.
Additional stakeholder meetings took place throughout 2019 as the project moved into the preliminary engineering and environmental review phase and further public engagement are ongoing as projects within the three segments of the Embarcadero corridor manifest.
Throughout the planning phase of the Embarcadero Enhancement Program, the SFMTA and Port of San Francisco partnered to address safety issues with near-term and operational upgrades wherever possible.
- 2016 - Roadway striping, signs, and parking changes were installed between Howard and 2nd streets, as well as a new bicycle signal at North Point Street. The city also updated crosswalks along much of the corridor with high-visibility striping and advanced stop lines for vehicles, including bicycles, to reduce conflicts at intersections. Improved safety messaging and signs along the shared-use promenade were also installed south of the Ferry Building.
- 2018 – The peak period tow-away restriction between Broadway and Mission Street was removed. This near-term safe improvement allows all-day parking and established a full-time, green-colored bike lane. Vehicle right-turn lanes were provided at Washington and Mission streets to support the continued movement of people and goods.
- Note: With the proposals included with the first phase of the EEP (Central Embarcadero), the southbound bike lane along The Embarcadero from Broadway to Mission will remain. However, two discontinuous segments of the protected bike lanes (north and south of Washington Street) will be converted into buffered bike lanes to accommodate new curbside loading near the Ferry Building.
- 2019 - Important safety fixes to the Sansome/Chestnut streets and Battery Street intersections of The Embarcadero were completed as part of the Sansome and Battery Connections Project. Additional crosswalk upgrades along The Embarcadero (new high-visibility striping, focused between Green and Bay streets) were initiated in 2019 and completed in 2020.
- 2020 - Construction on the Embarcadero 2020 Quick-Build Projects at Pier 35, Ferry Terminal, and in the Rincon Restaurant Zone was completed to expedite safety and mobility improvements. These projects were a critical first step toward achieving the project goals.