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Plan to ban cars on Market Street moves forward this month

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The Better Market Street Project, set to begin construction in 2020, intends to make the street more friendly for pedestrians, cyclists and transit. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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A plan to ban private vehicles on Market Street is taking a small step forward this month as The City begins to survey transit riders and local businesses on how to roll it out.

A release of the draft environmental review for the project and the creation of a conceptual engineering report will also hit in late 2018 or early 2019, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

In particular, merchants along Market Street who depend on loading zones will be surveyed by the SFMTA. The agency is finessing its more than $500 million plan to enhance transit and pedestrian access, utilities and more on the corridor.

Businesses need to “be vigilant” that the plan doesn’t create problems for loading goods, said Jim Lazarus, senior vice president for public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

“You’re always worried until you see the final product,” Lazarus said. “Some [businesses] don’t have any real access except on Market Street.”

While these may be seemingly small steps, the project has languished more than eight years, Supervisor Jane Kim noted in past San Francisco County Transportation Authority meetings.

The Better Market Street Project is a multi-agency effort to transform Market Street by banning private vehicles — but also by creating a transit, pedestrian and bike-friendly corridor. It’s slated to begin construction in 2020, according to the project’s planning documents, and spans Market Street from Octavia Street to The Embarcadero.

“I think we’ve accepted the fact there will be limited automobile traffic,” Lazarus said. The plan calls for wider bike lanes and sidewalks that planners wrote are for “streetlife zones.”

Door-to-door outreach to businesses and residents along Market will begin this month, according to the SFMTA.

The loading zones may be limited on Market Street for the car-free project, but Lazarus said some merchants have successfully used side streets instead.

“There clearly needs to be some truck traffic for moving vans, for accessing office buildings,” Lazarus said.

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