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SF leaders tout safety improvements at busy Chinatown corridor

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A damaged median is seen in the middle of Broadway on Thursday. City officials and Chinatown community leaders have launched a new streetscape improvement project, making the busy corridor more attractive and safe for pedestrians. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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City leaders are hoping the last step in long-awaited street improvements at a busy Chinatown intersection will finally make the corridor safer for pedestrians.

The beginning of the final push of the multifaceted Broadway Pedestrian Safety Project, which will lead to numerous safety efforts at one of the nation’s busiest corridors at Broadway and Powell Street, was celebrated Thursday afternoon.

“We have been working for over 20 years on improving the Broadway corridor,” said Rev. Norman Fong, executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center.

The next phase of the project comes months after Sun-Choi Law, a 62-year-old San Francisco man, was fatally struck by a vehicle at Broadway and Powell Street on March 14.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose district includes the scope of the project’s location, said he hopes to never again experience telling a wife and children they have lost their father.

“Projects like these help us move closer to our Vision Zero goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities by 2024,” Peskin said.

The $7.3 million project involves better lighting for pedestrians, adding more than 20 trees, new bus stops with shelters and larger sidewalk “bulbs” that stick out into the crosswalk and shortens the distance that seniors and community members have to walk to cross a street.

The bus lane will be shared with cyclists and decrease what is referred to as “dwell time,” in which the bus driver must pull over and then nudge their way back into the lane. Instead, the curb will protrude out to meet the bus, saving time and making the offloading of passengers safer.

Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson for Public Works, said adding trees and medians at the exit of the Broadway Tunnel will contribute to safer streets.

“It psychologically slows people down,” she said.

Since the project began in 2005, Broadway from the Embarcadero to the Robert C. Levy Tunnel has seen widened sidewalks, new curb ramps and storm drains, new benches and street lights, and more trees in an effort to create safer pedestrian walkways and crosswalks.

The final phase of the project is expected to be completed by next summer.

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