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SF transit agency to vote on $21B wish list, including new subway at West Portal

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The SFMTA’s capital plan is redrawn and approved every two years. It is followed by a five-year capital plan, which moves the agency toward starting the planned projects. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

It’s a plan to perhaps plan, which would then be followed by another plan — but today the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors is slated to vote to approve its $21 billion, 20-year capital plan.

The capital plan is not a budget that is enacted, but a wish list used as a first step in laying out the agency’s needs, from which projects to enact are later selected.

But the budget does reveal upcoming projects in their infancy that have yet to receive much, if any, public attention.

For instance, one section of the SFMTA’s capital plan, which is essentially a budget, expanded by nearly $850 million as the agency ramps up plans to put the M-Oceanview train line underground.

This potential new light-rail tunnel would run between West Portal and Parkmerced and see portions of 19th Avenue redesigned with a bike path and landscaping, all to the tune of at least $2.5 billion. This project, which has not yet been approved, includes a “substantial increase in the length of the tunnel” and additional underground stations, the SFMTA staff wrote in the capital plan.

The capital plan grew by about $800 million since it was drawn in 2015, according to the SFMTA, from $21.1 billion to $21.9 billion. The capital plan is redrawn and approved every two years, and is followed by a five-year capital plan, which is the next step in enacting projects.

Notably, capital budgets include infrastructure and vehicles, and not the cost of operating the agency.

The 20-year capital plan highlights new moves by the SFMTA both large and small and includes: funding for solar panels on bus yards, upgrading 23 red light cameras in The City, adding 10 new red light cameras, ordering new light rail vehicles, rehabilitating cable car facilities, enhancing disability access to trains, replacing Clipper Card scanners on vehicles, conducting 3D scans of maintenance facilities and trackways, new surveillance cameras in subways and subway station elevator replacements.

In a win for streetcar fans, $80 million was estimated in a potential pitch to extend the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar line to Fort Mason, and the E-Embarcadero historic streetcar may receive its own independent track loop and terminal for $10 million.

The taxi industry saw a reduction in potential investment from the SFMTA in the capital plan, down from $90 million to $60 million from 2015 to 2017. That change was made as the need to fund the accessible taxi rebate program, taxi stand increases and taxi management system “decreased in scope,” the SFMTA wrote.

And in perhaps in mixed news for drivers, The City’s 27,000 parking meters may be replaced and modernized yet again as part of the capital plan.

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