Transportation safety advocates say these road changes to Bay street, approved in 2013, would have slowed the car that struck two children. Image from SFMTA agenda item on street improvements to Bay Street, circa 2013.

Safety upgrades were delayed on street where SUV hit two children

San Francisco police say a pair of 12-year-old boys were struck Wednesday morning by a car allegedly driven by an intoxicated driver in the Marina district — sending the children to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Examiner has learned safety upgrades were delayed on Bay Street, the location where they were hit.

The driver, Kirsten Andereck, was arrested on suspicion driving under the influence, according to San Francisco police.

The kids were struck behind Moscone Park, near Marina Middle School. A reading of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency documents reveals the section of street was slated to receive traffic slowdown improvements. But those improvements never materialized.

Transportation advocates said these speed reduction measures could have slowed the car that struck the children.

“The agency is working really hard with the mayor and other departments to implement Vision Zero,” Tom Nolan, chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors told the Examiner, referencing The City’s goal to reduce traffic collision deaths to zero by 2024.

“I’ll look into it, and I’m sure the board will look into this, especially if there was a delay,” he said. “This highlights the need to move more quickly than we have.”

A Tweet shows the scene of the collision, via ABC 7 News.

The safety project was approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors almost two years to the day before the boys were hit, according to SFMTA documents – Nov. 5, 2013.

An SFMTA agenda said the changes would narrow the roadway, which “should reduce speeding and improve pedestrian safety by shortening the crossing distance.”

The agenda also noted “Slowing speeds and improving safety by narrowing the roadway is especially important given the nearby school, park, and assisted living facility.”

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose confirmed the first phrase of the project is complete, which includes upgrading sewer lines and installing curb ramps.

But the second phase may start “as early as November 2015,” he wrote in an email. “The city has been working to schedule the contractor for the repaving work,” he said. “Once that work is complete by the end of this year, we will be able to install the upgrades to slow traffic in the area by reducing a lane of traffic and adding a speed hump.

The current project website for the “Bay Street Road Diet and Cycletrack” states construction would be complete by Sept. 2015, with additional work coming after.

But using the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine,” the Examiner found an earlier version of the project site that said the project will be “implemented in coordination with a repaving project on Bay Street in the summer of 2014.”

Additionally, a mass-email obtained by the Examiner written by an SFMTA junior engineer states construction on speed-reduction improvements would begin Fall 2014.

Chris Cassidy, spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition said “The number of delayed safety improvements on streets across San Francisco is staggering. The inability of city agencies to stick to their own timelines for delivering safer streets deserves some real soul-searching.

“And,” he said, “these boys deserved better than they got.”

Nicole Ferrara of the advocacy organization Walk SF said the SFMTA does juggle many street improvements – 204 projects are now underway, and 84 were recently completed.

“Bay is a huge street,” she said, and “is not appropriate for an urban environment. We need MTA to fix (it).”

The Vision Zero coalition plans to hold an event to honor the victims and survivors of traffic deaths on Nov. 15, on Market Street at the U.N. Plaza.

“Children deserve to be safe,” Rose said, “and drivers slowing down is one proven way to do that.”

Michael Barba contributed to this report.

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