Courtesy photoThere are plans in the works to rework the Muni lines on 19th Avenue near San Francisco State

Study identifies design options for light-rail relocation along 19th Avenue

A proposal to relocate the Muni M-Ocean View light-rail line along 19th Avenue in southwest San Francisco has reached a planning milestone with the release of a feasibility study.

The project aims to reduce travel times along the avenue, also known as state Highway 1, by relocating the rail line from the median to the west side of the corridor through grade-separated crossings.

The draft final report for the 19th Avenue Transit Study, released Friday, identifies the San Francisco County Transportation Authority's “highest performing option,” which would involve double subway tracks from south of St. Francis Circle to south of Buckingham Way, and a bridge from Font Boulevard to Randolph Street. Alternative options include a shorter subway and tunnel. Two years in the making, the study incorporated public-outreach findings from the fall.

Predating the feasibility study were a 2010 corridor study, where the idea for the west side realignment was born, as well as the Parkmerced Vision plan adopted in 2011, which called for 5,679 new housing units.

“Completing the feasibility study is the first milestone for this being a transit project instead of an idea coming out of a land-use plan,” said project manager Liz Brisson.

The study was unanimously supported by the authority's citizens advisory committee Wednesday and will be considered by the plans and programs committee March 18.

Final approval from the authority's full board could occur March 25, when the board will also consider allocating $306,000 in Proposition K funds for the pre-environmental impact study.

The citizens advisory committee supported the use of Prop. K funds for the project at its Wednesday meeting.

“We'll be launching the next phase of work pretty seamlessly,” Brisson said.

The pre-environmental impact study phase will be funded in large part through a priority development area planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The 19th Avenue project is a “classic example” of what the grant was designed to fund, according to commission spokesman John Goodwin.

“You've got a high-density residential development with access to transit and that is really what the priority development area is all about,” he said.

The feasibility study, funded through a Caltrans grant, was completed on time, Brisson said.

Following an aggressive schedule, the reformed Muni M-Ocean View line could operate as early as 2022. “But that would require us to move at a faster pace that has been typical of other projects of this scale,” Brisson said. “It's ambitious, but potentially achievable.”

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