UPDATE: 54 Felton Route also impacted by @SFPD activity. OB 54 coaches rerouting via Oakdale-Lane-Revere. https://t.co/bYnxWAW248 (More: 11 in last 24 hours)

Powell Streetscape Project

Project Introduction

The Powell Streetscape Project will design and construct a new streetscape layout for Powell Street between Geary and Ellis streets to enhance the quality and use of the public realm, improve safety for all street users, improve cable car safety and performance, and renew transportation infrastructure. The project matches the footprint of the Powell Promenade Parklets (constructed in July 2011) and the Powell Street Safety and Sidewalk Improvement Pilot (implemented in Nov 2015). It will build and improve upon both of these successful projects with a permanent streetscape design, including wider sidewalks, reduced vehicle volumes, and improved loading for businesses and hotels. Intersection safety improvements at the crossings of Powell Street with Post, O’Farrell, and Geary streets, as well as transit upgrades for the 38-Geary bus stop at Powell & O’Farrell, are also part of the project.

Vision Zero SF logo
Project Timeline 
2017 - 2018
Planning
Completed
2019 - 2020
Engineering & Design
Pending
Starting Early 2021
Construction
Pending
Current Phase or Stage
Preliminary Engineering
Project Status
Environmental Review
Preliminary Engineering
Project Success
On budget
On schedule
Improvements
SFMTA walking icon
Wider sidewalks and a refreshed, pedestrian-focused design
SFMTA Streetscape icon
Streetscape enhancements, including leaning posts and planters
SFMTA Muni Cable Car icon
Safety and reliability improvements for the cable cars and 38-Geary lines
SFMTA Drive and Parking icon
Improved traffic signals to keep people moving
Neighborhoods
Streets
Powell Street; Geary Street; O'Farrell Street; Ellis Street

Powell Street is one of the most visited streets in San Francisco, owing to the world famous cable cars running up and down the hill and its central location near the Powell BART/Muni station, Union Square, and Market Street. As such, Powell Street sees some of the highest pedestrian volumes measured in the city, with over 4,000 people per hour walking up and down the street during the peak period. The existing sidewalks are, however, too narrow to comfortably support so many people, and although the temporary parklets do provide additional space, they have reached the end of their useful lives.

Project scope:

The Powell Streetscape Project is a redesign of two blocks of Powell Street near Union Square, between Geary and Ellis streets – proposing a refreshed, pedestrian-focused streetscape design with wider sidewalks and improved loading. This new streetscape will provide a signature street for the iconic Union Square neighborhood, providing a welcoming environment for the area’s many visitors from around the world.

The project continues traffic regulations from the successful Powell Street Safety and Sidewalk Improvement Pilot. These piloted regulations include vehicle restrictions intended to reduce traffic volumes on Powell Street for improved cable car operations and a safer environment for walking. The project will address safety needs not covered by the pilot, such as upgrading painted sidewalk extensions at corners to become part of the permanent sidewalk. Additionally, traffic signals will be modified at Powell & Geary to reduce conflicts between people walking in the western crosswalk and drivers turning right from Powell onto Geary; signals will also be upgraded at the intersections of Powell & O’Farrell and Powell & Ellis. The project also includes moving the Powell & O’Farrell bus stop serving the 38-Geary lines to the far-side of the intersection, improving transit performance.

Project background:

The Powell Streetscape Project is the result of over seven years of ‘tactical urbanism’, beginning with the installation of temporary aluminum parklets in May 2011, sponsored by Audi and designed by Hood Design Studio. These parklets were originally designed to last five years, and while still remaining, have passed their useful life; this project will replace them with permanent sidewalk extensions ten years later.

In November 2015, the SFMTA initiated the Powell Street Safety and Sidewalk Improvement Pilot, which introduced vehicle restrictions on Powell Street between Geary and Ellis streets to reduce traffic volumes – addressing safety concerns and reliability issues for the cable car system. Specifically, thru vehicle traffic was restricted from turning onto Powell Street for those two blocks to keep the roadway clear for cable cars and reduce the conflicts between turning vehicles and people in the crosswalks (access for passenger and commercial loading for fronting businesses and hotels was retained). In July 2017, these vehicle restrictions were permanently legislated by the SFMTA Board of Directors following encouraging results from the pilot. Traffic volumes decreased on Powell Street roughly 60%, injury collisions within the project area dropped from 2-3 incidents per year to zero during the pilot, hazardous wear to the cable cars was reduced 23%, and turning movement volumes fell by 70 to 80%.

Caltrans Logo
Muni
San Francisco Public Works logo
SF Planning Department logo
Vision Zero SF logo
Contact Information
Mark Dreger
415.646.2719
Hester Yu
415.646.2633