A 38R Muni bus passes by parking meters that will be permanently removed along Geary Boulevard as work begins on the new Geary Rapid Project on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Geary Rapid Project gets underway

Construction began this week on the first phase of the Geary Rapid Project, intended to bring safety improvements and more reliable bus service along Geary Boulevard and O’Farrell Street, officials with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said Tuesday.

The first set of improvements includes almost two new miles of transit-only lanes in each direction on most blocks between Stanyan and Gough streets, and new bicycle markings to help bicyclists cross Geary Boulevard at Webster, Steiner, and Masonic streets.

“Along with improving service reliability, this project will make Geary a much safer street for all who use it with new signalized crosswalks and enhanced medians,” said Ed Reiskin, director of transportation at the SFMTA, in a statement.

Approximately 54,000 commuters use the 38 and 38R Geary lines each day, making it “the most heavily used bus corridor west of the Mississippi,” Reiskin said.

As part of the project, some bus stops will be relocated or removed. The 38R will no longer stop at Spruce Street but will still be serviced by the 38 and 38BX.

Some on-street parking will also be removed, but 98 percent of parking in a two-block radius of the corridor will remain in place, the agency said.

Work on this phase of the project is expected to be completed in four to six weeks, and is being implemented just six weeks after the SFMTA board approved it on Aug. 21, making it one of the faster projects to be turned around in recent years, public data shows.

Later phases of the Geary Rapid Project, which will be completed in its entirety by 2021, will redesign street traffic to construct center-running bus-only lanes on parts of Geary Boulevard and see the construction of boarding islands, attempting to replicate some features of light-rail service. The project has been controversial, with some complaints from neighbors who are concerned about parking and access to businesses along the boulevard.

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