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A Digital Journal - San Francisco Public Works

In the Works

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October 2021

Public Works crews revved into high gear when the atmospheric river drenched San Francisco, keeping a coordinated brigade of arborists,
street cleaners, geotechnical engineers, truck drivers, street inspectors, radio dispatchers and other pros on our team working non-stop throughout the stormy weekend responding to more than 1,000 calls for assistance.

FEATURE STORIES

Storm Response!

Unfortunately, the forecast for a major storm – described with the ominous term “atmospheric river” – proved true. San Francisco recorded 4.02 inches of rain on Oct. 24, making it the fourth wettest day recorded since the Gold Rush era.

 

Safe, Inviting and Refreshed: Jefferson Street Gets a Makeover

With planning, design and construction now in the rearview mirror, the newly completed Jefferson Streetscape Improvements Project has transformed the popular corridor in the historic Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood.

Sneak Peak at New
SFPD Crime Lab

Earlier this month, Public Works teamed up with the San Francisco Police Department to give the public an insider’s look at the City’s new Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division facility in the Bayview that will house hundreds of police personnel once it opens this winter.

A More Welcoming
Geary Boulevard

Geary Boulevard, one of the busiest corridors in San Francisco, got a much-needed overhaul that makes the street safer for pedestrians, more reliable for Muni bus riders and a more  livable environment for neighboring communities.

Phoenix Day Signals
a City on the Rise

San Francisco celebrated Phoenix Day – a zestful collection of outdoor community events with music, organized bike rides, block parties, pop-up food venues and family-fun activities on Oct. 17 to showcase the spirit and resiliency of the City.

Scrub Down!

The CleanCorridorsSF team targeted their deep-cleaning operation this month in the Middle Polk, Outer Sunset, Hayes Valley and Bayview neighborhoods -- flushing roads, steam-cleaning sidewalks, wiping out graffiti and digging out weeds.

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A Public Works arborist uses a chainsaw to cut down what remains of a large broken limb that hangs precariously over Ninth Avenue.

Storm Response!

Unfortunately, the forecast for a major storm – described with the ominous term “atmospheric river” – proved true. San Francisco recorded
4.02 inches of rain on Oct. 24, making it the fourth wettest day recorded since the
Gold Rush era.

The torrential downpour, coupled with high winds, took a toll on our urban forest: More than 900 service requests for toppled trees and fallen limbs landed in our work queue, but our Bureau of Urban Forestry crews didn’t miss a beat. They reported to work as soon as the first drops fell and stayed on the job around the clock – even during the pounding tempest that flooded streets and knocked out power.

Our arborist crews went from site to site in neighborhoods across the City to work on downed trees and limbs.

One crew member soared 40 feet high in a bucket truck to saw down a large, severed limb hanging precariously over a Forest Hill roadway.
 

Scenes like that played out throughout the day and night. The crews prioritized trees and limbs that blocked roads and sidewalks, compromised power lines, fell on or threatened houses and landed on parked cars. And they kept at it throughout the week.

We’ve had 27 arborists, laborers and truck drivers on storm-response duty, with another 40 Public Works gardeners and laborers from the Landscape and Cement Shop teams helping clear debris. In addition, we brought in two tree-care contractors to assist. In just a few days, the coordinated operation made good progress, but cleanup of the stacked piles of tree debris will take more time.

Crews work on the damaged trees on Ninth Avenue.

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Over the weekend, the Public Works team handed out more than 3,000 sandbags.

Other Public Works crews also stepped up during the deluge. We handed out more than 3,000 free sandbags to San Franciscans over the weekend at our Operations Yard in the Bayview.

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There, they came by bike, foot and motorized vehicle to pick up the sandbags, which they use to keep water from intruding into their homes and businesses.
 

Normally, our sandbag distribution operation is closed on Sundays, but we opened our gates on Oct. 24 because we knew demand would be high. Our employees worked tirelessly directing traffic, replenishing the sandbag supply and giving those in need a hand loading up the sandbags that weigh about 35 pounds apiece. All this in drenching, bone-chilling rain.

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Residents came to our Operations Yard by foot, car and bike to retrieve sandbags.

Also working throughout the weekend were our street cleaning crews who used shovels, rakes and brooms to clear leaves and litter from clogged catch basins. We responded to more than 230 flooded intersections.

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A clogged catch basin in the Mission District gets cleared by a Public Works employee. In all, our team responded to more than 200 flooded intersections.

In addition, Public Works geotechnical engineers were out in the storm keeping a close watch on hotspots with a history of flooding, slides and erosion.
 

And helping direct the entire operation were the women and men who staff our Radio Room, a 24/7 operation that intakes service requests, dispatches crews and collaborates with our sister City agencies, among them the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Fire Department, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, the Department of Emergency Management and 311.
 

San Franciscans relied on us during the wet-weather pummeling, and we delivered – with pride, know-how and dogged resolve.

Thank You
San Francisco!

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Safe, Inviting and Refreshed:
Jefferson Street Gets a Makeover

With planning, design and construction now
in the rearview mirror, the newly completed
Jefferson Streetscape Improvements Project
has transformed the popular corridor in the
historic Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood.

The reimagined Jefferson Street corridor, between Hyde and Powell streets, is part of the Fisherman’s Wharf Public Realm Plan to create
a safer, more vibrant pedestrian corridor.

Public Works led the multiagency collaboration, which involved the
Port of San Francisco, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Caltrans, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, San Francisco Planning and the Fisherman’s Wharf community.

Click the circle on the image to slide the photos from left to right to get a before-and-after glimpse of Jefferson Street.

Along with Mayor London Breed and District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, we held a ceremonial ribbon cutting on Oct. 22 at the new flex-space plaza at the northeast corner of Taylor and Jefferson streets where a gas station stood for nearly a half-century from the 1930s to mid-1970s. 

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Mayor London Breed leads a ribbon-cutting ceremony to fete the new streetscape.

The plaza is just one of the many improvements made along the Jefferson Street corridor as envisioned by the Fisherman’s Wharf Public Realm Plan that was developed between 2008 and 2010.

Originally a one-way street with narrow sidewalks and inadequate lighting, Jefferson Street was revamped as a universally accessible pedestrian corridor. During Phase I, the one-way street was converted into a two-way throughfare to help promote multimodal sharing of the roadway to improve pedestrian and bike safety and to enhance the travel experience throughout this iconic destination for locals and tourists alike.

Other major improvements include widened sidewalks, ADA-compliant curb ramps, new pedestrian-scale lighting, landscaping, new street trees, expanded public seating, bicycle parking and a redesigned narrow roadway with special concrete bands to promote slower vehicle speeds.

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Crews compete construction of the special concrete roadway bands in sections.

Due to funding, the full project was divided into two phases.

Construction of Phase I’s $5.5 million project in 2013 focused on the
first two blocks of Jefferson Street between Hyde and Jones streets. That was followed by the remaining three blocks of Jefferson Street between Jones and Powell streets – the $16.3 million Phase 2 project broke ground in October 2019 and reached substantial completion this month.

The project team worked closely with numerous community stakeholders, including the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant Association and various businesses, to address questions and concerns.

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Wildfire smoke cast an eerie glow over the project site on Sept. 9, 2020.

In early 2020, as with the rest of the world, the The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Jefferson Streetscape Project to alter its original plans – but that didn’t stop us from getting the job done.

While much of the world was on pause, construction activity on essential infrastructure projects was permitted to was allowed to continue. The project team quickly implemented new enhanced health and safety protocols, such as usage of protective face masks, physical distancing among crew members and increased sanitation and equipment disinfecting practices, to keep workers safe on the job site.

The pandemic also had a ripple effect that extended the original completion date by nearly a year, due to delays in manufacturing and the delivery of key project elements, including walls, benches, planters and custom guard railing for the inner harbor.

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The streetscape sports a variety of new features, including inner harbor railing, palm trees, decorative sidewalks and benches.

The shutdown allowed the project to partner with the Fisherman’s Wharf CBD and SFMTA to implement a temporary full road closure of Jefferson Street between Jones and Powell streets to help keep the corridor secure. It also provided the project team the opportunity to reprioritize the sequence of construction activity to complete as much of the most disruptive scopes of work, such as full roadway
and sidewalk demolition and replacement, during a period when most non-essential businesses were closed.
This pivot ensured that any remaining construction activity would be minimal once businesses reopened.

Additional project information is available at www.sfpublicworks.org/jefferson.

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The project teams celebrating the ground-breaking and the completion of the Jefferson Streetscape project.

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Kids from Rosa Parks Elementary School join in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Geary Boulevard makeover.

A More Welcoming
Geary Boulevard

Geary Boulevard, one of the busiest corridors in San Francisco, got a much-needed overhaul that makes the street safer for pedestrians, more reliable for Muni bus riders and a more livable environment for neighboring communities.

The recently completed Geary Rapid Project, which we marked on Oct. 20 with a community celebration and ribbon cutting at the Japantown Peace Plaza, brought transformative changes
to the corridor, revamping it from an expressway to a more hospitable urban street.

 

A major goal was to knit back together the three adjoining communities – Japantown, the Fillmore and St. Francis Square – severed by the Geary Boulevard expressway that the City developed during the Western Addition urban renewal projects in the mid-20th century.

 

Ellen Wong, of the Public Works Infrastructure Design and Construction Division, managed the overall design and construction of the project on behalf of our sister agency,
the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

 

Upgrades include 34 new pedestrian bulb-outs to shorten crossing distances for pedestrians and to slow down turning vehicles; new countdown signals to let people know how much time they have to cross the streets; and new curb ramps to improve accessibility.

 

The revamped street design also reduced the number of traffic lanes from four lanes in each direction to three – with two designated for general use and one exclusively for transit.

 

The Geary Boulevard improvements run from Market to
Stanyan streets.

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The pedestrian refuge in the middle of Geary Boulevard at Buchanan Street showcases artistic panels trumpeting the surrounding neighborhoods.

As part of the project, the City created a new signalized crosswalk at Geary Boulevard and Buchanan Street that includes a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the street that features decorative panels designed by local artists, representing the rich history of the surrounding communities. The Buchanan crosswalk was one of four newly designed crosswalks.

 

The pedestrian bridge at Geary Boulevard and Steiner Street, which was little-used and not up to modern code, was permanently removed by a Public Works contractor in 2020. You can learn more about the bridge tear-down operation by watching this Public Works TV episode. Replacing the span are improved surface-level crosswalks and median refuges. The spaces where the bridge landings once stood are now part of adjacent Rec and Park sites, including a new expanded patio and landscaping for the Hamilton Recreation Center.

 

Other improvements included new sewer and water pipes and fresh paving, as well as 31 new street trees between Divisadero and Gough streets.

 

In addition to construction management, our curb ramp, street resurfacing and landscape teams had a hand in delivering this project.

 

For a more in-depth look at the project, the SFMTA put together this interactive virtual tour. Check it out.

Buses run along special transit-only lanes to make for more reliable transit travel.

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A birds-eye view of the new SFPD facility, as captured by a drone.

Sneak Peek at the new
SFPD Crime Lab

Earlier this month, Public Works teamed up with the San Francisco Police Department to give the public an insider’s look at the City’s new Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division facility in the Bayview that will house hundreds of police personnel once it opens this winter.

Over the course of the day on Oct. 23, more than 100 members of the public toured the state-of-the-art facility that will house the crime lab and serve as headquarters for the motorcycle cops. Visitors got firsthand knowledge of how the Police Department’s Investigations Bureau solves crime through crime scene investigation, DNA testing, fingerprint records and firearm examinations.

The tour also gave insight on the Police Department’s Traffic Company, which is primarily comprised of police officers assigned
to motorcycles to provide traffic enforcement, accident investigations and raise public awareness of traffic-safety measures. They also play a crucial role in citywide events, such as parades and demonstrations, and provide essential services in the event of a disaster.

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Clockwise, from top left: Some of the tools used by crime scene investigators; members of the public tour the forensic laboratories;
SFPD Capt. Dave Falzon at the firing range; SFPD motorcycles lined up in the parking bay.

Not only did the tours teach the public about what goes on inside the facility, guests also learned about the building’s design and construction, which was managed by Public Works in partnership with HOK Architects, MEI Architects and Clark Construction. Among the 100,000-square-foot building’s many impressive features are its seismic safety and resiliency. The building, if necessary, can remain fully operational for up to 96 hours after a major earthquake or other disaster, thanks to a sizable 7,200-gallon emergency diesel generator.

 

The Traffic Company and Forensic Services Division facility project is funded by the voter-approved 2014 Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response (ESER) bond. The ESER Bond Program, launched in 2010, is an initiative to bolster earthquake safety and resiliency though capital improvements on critical infrastructure, including police and other first responder facilities. A third phase of the ESER bond program was approved by voters in the March 2020 election.

 

For more information about the facility, visit sfearthquakesafety.org/motorcycle-police-and-crime-lab.

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Phoenix Day
Signals a City on the Rise

San Francisco celebrated Phoenix Day – a zestful collection of outdoor community events with music, organized bike rides, block parties, pop-up food venues and family-fun activities on Oct. 17 to showcase the spirit and resiliency of the City.

The date marked the 32nd anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake and telegraphed the expected return of the popular Sunday Streets SF program in 2022.

 

Sunday Streets, which started here in 2008, transforms streets into car-free zones in different neighborhoods on one Sunday each month. Organized by the nonprofit organization Livable City in partnership with City agencies, including Public Works, Sunday Streets had been put on pause for a year and a half during the worst of the COVID-19 health crisis.

 

Phoenix Day was Sunday Streets on steroids, with full street closures in the Mission, Tenderloin, Bayview, Excelsior and Chinatown – plus dozens of block parties in neighborhoods across San Francisco.

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Apple checks out the two-way radio on the sweeper truck as Mia keeps watch.

“The pandemic tested
our resilience and well-being,
and reminded us just how important outdoor gathering spaces are
for the growth and health
of our neighborhoods.
Sunday Streets provide us
the opportunity
to celebrate our city, together,”

said Mayor London Breed, who kicked off the day’s events
with an event at Chan Kaajal Park in the Mission District.

As we had at past Sunday Streets events, we had two Public Works truck drivers on hand to educate community members about truck safety. On a closed-off block of Valencia Street, we parked a mechanical sweeper truck and let folks climb into the cab and behind the controls so they could get a first-hand idea of what our drivers see when they’re on the road. Traffic safety is our No. 1 priority when we’re behind the wheel of our trucks and we want pedestrians and bicyclists to be mindful, as well.

Our Community Engagement and street cleaning teams also were involved in Phoenix Day activities, supporting neighbors with a cleanup on Mission Street and tabling on Valencia Street to provide passersby with information on our volunteer opportunities.

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Lead Public Works truck driver Sean Lange teaches Donovan about truck safety.

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A Polk Street intersection gets power washed. 

Scrub
Down!

The CleanCorridorsSF team targeted their deep-cleaning operation this month in the Middle Polk, Outer Sunset, Hayes Valley and Bayview neighborhoods -- flushing roads, steam-cleaning sidewalks, wiping out graffiti and digging out weeds.

CleanCorridorsSF targets a different neighborhood every week, covering at least 10 blocks during each operation. The special program allows us the opportunity to do detailed, proactive cleaning.

Here/Say Media highlighted the program. Check out their coverage here.

Thanks for reading!

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