The Embarcadero Enhancement Project
The Embarcadero Quick-Build Projects at Pier 35, Ferry Terminal, and in the Rincon Restaurant Zone were substantially completed in December to expedite safety and mobility improvements along the waterfront. These changes included the corridor’s first segment of two-way protected bikeway adjacent to the promenade, offering a preview of the changes proposed with the Embarcadero Enhancement Project (EEP).
Looking to connect and extend these quick-build improvements, the EEP prioritizes the next two phases of capital investment along the corridor. On Tuesday, January 12, SFMTA presented the proposed phasing plan to the Port Commission. Click here to read the full project update.
The Embarcadero Enhancement Project (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 areas 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 included a new two-way protected bikeway. To expedite safety and mobility improvements, the city began construction on three Embarcadero Quick-Build Projects in summer 2020 as part of Vision Zero.
Looking to connect and extend these improvements, the Embarcadero Enhancement Project (EEP) prioritizes the next two phases of capital investment along the Central (Mission to Broadway) and Southern (Folsom to Townsend) corridor segments. Given considerable design and funding challenges along The Embarcadero north of Broadway, this segment will undergo additional public outreach and analysis together with the Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 circulation study.
The Embarcadero corridor (between Lombard and Townsend streets) is also on the city’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, there were 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 and the SFMTA is prioritizing efforts on the corridors that have the highest number of serious and fatal collisions.
The Embarcadero Enhancement Project is in support of Vision Zero and will implement 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 to implementing the city’s Vision Zero Strategy. With those values in mind, the Embarcadero Enhancement Project aims to:
- Build a safer Embarcadero for all users
- Improve connections between the Embarcadero, nearby neighborhoods, and the region
- Elevate the Embarcadero’s role as a valued destination and workplace for locals, visitors, businesses, maritime and Industrial uses
- Invest in critical infrastructure to support the renewal and recovery of our City while protecting public health
Current Phase or Stage
The SFMTA has secured $875,000 of SFCTA Prop K sales tax revenue and other local funds to advance the project through the current Project Approvals and Environmental Determination (PAED) phase. In coordination with the Port, Public Works, the Planning Department, and a technical consultant team the key project tasks in this phase are as follows:
- Base mapping, data collection, and preliminary engineering to support environmental review
- Continued public outreach and engagement
- Approvals and scoping of detailed design for prioritized segment(s), including potential Quick-Build segments
The Waterfront Transportation Framework was developed to guide all transportation efforts on and around The Embarcadero and 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 outer years when additional funding or development opportunities may be available to support the high capital cost segment.
Phase 1 - Central Segment (Mission to Broadway)
The first phase (Central Segment) will be constructed in two distinct sub-phases, with less-intensive construction to occur in 2021, using ‘quick-build’ techniques and city crews, followed by a more substantial capital investment and civil construction.
This iterative approach allows for timely implementation of key safety measures and expanded mobility options during the pandemic-related temporary shutdown of historic streetcar service. It also allows for time to observe and evaluate these changes prior to committing to more permanent and expensive civil features
Phase 2 - Southern Segment (Mission to Townsend)
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 and connect to the Bay Trail behind the ballpark. The proposed raised bikeway, on the promenade from Harrison to Townsend, supports wider overall promenade width and provides more adaptability to special event needs. Details still being refined include changes to loading zones, and intersection modifications.
Northern Segment (Broadway to North Point)
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 the Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf circulation study) 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 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. A summary of survey results is available on the project website.
Additional stakeholder meetings took place throughout 2019 as the project moved into the preliminary engineering and environmental review phase, and more substantial public engagement is planned for 2020-21.
Throughout the planning phase of the Embarcadero Enhancement Project, the SFMTA and Port of San Francisco partnered to address safety issues with near-term and operational upgrades wherever possible.
- 2016 - Striping, signage and parking upgrades 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 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 share 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 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 first phase of the EEP (Central Segment), the southbound bike lane along The Embarcadero from Broadway to Mission will remain. Two discontinuous segments of protected bike lane (near Washington Street) will be converted to buffered bike lanes, however, to accommodate new curbside loading near the Ferry Building.
- 2019 - Important safety fixes to the Sansome/Chestnut and Battery 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 Quick-Build Projects at Pier 35, Ferry Terminal, and in the Rincon Restaurant Zone were completed to expedite safety and mobility improvements. These projects were a critical first step toward achieving the project goals.