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Merchants to decry Geary Bus Rapid Transit project

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The plan to speed up the 38-Geary with bus-only rapid transit lanes has met some opposition from merchants along the Geary corridor who worry the construction of the project will disrupt their businesses. (Kevin Kelleher/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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Geary Bus Rapid Transit is set to speed up bus travel times along Geary Boulevard by as much as 15 minutes, a major boon to transit riders.

But some merchants on Geary Boulevard fear construction will sink their businesses.

David Heller, president of the Greater Geary Boulevard Merchants circulated a flyer in red, proclaiming “LOOK, Watch Muni kill jobs on Geary Blvd.” The flyer is an attempt to garner opposition to Geary BRT to attend a Thursday meeting about Geary BRT at Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption.

The meeting is part of the public comment period for the draft environmental report of the Geary BRT project, San Francisco County Transportation Authority spokesman Eric Young said.

“They can ask questions, they can provide comments, either to a court reporter there or on comment cards,” he said.

As the San Francisco Examiner previously reported, the 38-Geary and 38-Geary Rapid carry 55,000 passengers a day. That’s about as many people who ride all of Caltrain daily (58,245 passengers). But soon Geary Bus Rapid Transit will transform the streets to allow the 38-Geary to behave like a train.

Geary Boulevard will gain side bus-only lanes under the project and some center bus-only lanes. But in order to construct that and the train-like bus stops, construction may disrupt some businesses.

The true number of merchants who feel Geary BRT will impact them is hard to gauge. Though Heller’s flyer describes the project as one that “crushes” businesses, Young said the construction impact may only last a handful of months.

The construction, he said, would be completed in segments with “a duration from roughly one to five months depending on the work that needs to be in that segment.”

If utility work is included in the upgrade, for instance, construction will be on the longer side, Young said.

There are many mitigation measures for the construction, he said. “One is mitigating access,” he said. “There’d always be crosswalk and sidewalk access, which means street access. There’d be one lanes or two lanes preserved throughout construction.”

“We’re not talking about closing a section of Geary and completely rerouting traffic,” he said.

Shlomit Heller, co-owner of SF Beauty Network on Geary (and wife of David Heller), is also sounding the alarm.

“I’ve been a merchant for 29 years,” she said, but “for 15 minutes saving time they’re going to disrupt our world.”

“We won’t be able to survive,” she said.

Community members are invited to provide comment on the draft environmental impact report of Geary BRT by emailing the SFCTA at gearybrt@sfcta.org.

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