Balboa Park station facing daunting needs, but improvements on the way

Gil Riego Jr./Special to The S.F. ExaminerOut of service: A sign warns patrons that the main escalator at the Balboa Park transit station is not working.

Infrastructure improvements to the Balboa Park transit station, a site with notoriously bad accessibility, could cost more than $100 million and take a decade to be implemented.

Despite serving 24,000 BART and Muni customers each day, the Excelsior district depot has been historically underserved, with the lack of investment forcing patrons to cross busy traffic arteries or come uncomfortably close to light-rail vehicles to reach the station.

The new Balboa Park Station Capacity Study lists recommendations for the station and its surrounding environs that would cost $107 million. The study, a joint effort among various public agencies, will be presented at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors meeting today.

The recommendations range from smaller-ticket items such as signage improvements and more protection from the elements at bus stops to major overhauls such as a proposal to elevate local roadways to better connect the station with nearby Interstate 280.

The report identifies about ?$20 million in short-term projects that could be completed quickly, since they are relatively inexpensive and require minimal environmental review studies. Those upgrades include canopies over bus shelters, a walkway connecting the BART ?mezzanine with San Jose Avenue and closing the tracks on Ocean Avenue to pedestrians.

Some signage improvements could start within the next couple of months, according to Frank Markowitz, a project manager for the SFMTA.

Between BART and the SFMTA, roughly $9 million to $10 million is available to pay for the near-range projects, Markowitz said.

Other improvements, including a $65 million roadway elevation plan, would require additional funding sources and likely take more than 10 years. Markowitz said the SFMTA is looking at potential funding sources for the plan, including local transportation tax dollars and regional, state and federal grants.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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