Intersection gets an upgrade

Crosswalks deemed dangers at Mission and Cesar Chavez fitted with timed signals

The City is beginning to make improvements at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Mission streets.

Last week, residents held a rally and formed a community organization to ask The City to make improvements to the intersection, which had the seventh most injury collisions in The City in 2005, according to a Department of Parking and Traffic report.

The City has already made several improvements to the area over the past few years, however, such as adding pedestrian countdown signals to make the street safer, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority Spokeswoman Maggie Lynch.

The City is also planning to use grant money to construct sidewalk bulb-outs around Leonard Flynn School, constructing refugee islands at Cesar Chavez and South Van Ness streets and also studying the possibility of adding bike lanes to the area.

The improvements are being made because the intersection has had a dubious reputation for pedestrian safety.

Daniel Romero, who has worked as a day laborer on the street for the past six years, said he sees drivers treating the street like a freeway.

Between 2000 and 2004, there was one fatality, two severe injuries and up to 30 minor injuries suffered by pedestrians at the intersection, according to the San Francisco Department of Health.

Fran Taylor, the chair of the new community group C.C. Puede — the “C.C.” stands for Cesar Chavez — said residents appreciate the improvements but they are only “baby steps.”

Rose Bustamante, also of C.C. Puede, said ideally residents would like to see major improvements on the street, such as removing one lane of traffic in each direction and having a middle lane for left turns, although she acknowledged a lot of studies would need to be done before such a move could be made.

“Basically, the challenging thing is that everything that they are improving is not enough,” she said. “It is not looking at the whole street. Really, the crux of the problem is the amount of traffic and the speed of traffic.”

The City has recently worked on trying to reduce the speed of cars and cut down on the number of red light runners by upgrading all the signals along Cesar Chavez Street between Mission and U.S. Highway 101.

New curb ramps and overhead signal mast-arms, which Lynch said have been shown to reduce the number of cars running red lights, have also been added.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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