Two of the Sunset district’s busiest intersections — where neighbors say near collisions between pedestrians and Muni metro trains are common occurrences — will receive long-awaited upgrades to increase safety and calm traffic.
A $250,000 project to install train-detection systems and countdown signals at the intersections at Ninth Avenue and Irving and Judah streets is in the works after neighborhood residents, pedestrian advocates and Muni officials raised concerns about dangerous conditions. The detection systems would provide exclusive train signals that would separate when trains, pedestrians and drivers cross the intersections.
The intersections serve high volumes of pedestrians, cars and transit vehicles and are home to a variety of restaurants, shops and bars at the heart of the Inner Sunset shopping district. The N-Judah — The City’s most heavily used metro train — travels through both intersections.
At a green light, pedestrians, drivers and Muni trains cross the intersections simultaneously. Oftentimes, pedestrians will hop in front of the trains without realizing train operators also have the right of way.
“I’ve seen a lot of near misses with seniors, the disabled, kids, cars — pedestrians don’t always see the train coming, and the train has to ring the bell or the horn,” said Greg Dewar, a San Francisco resident who blogs about Muni and the N-Judah. “If you separated pedestrians from traffic, at the very least you wouldn’t have the possibility of a train hitting a pedestrian.”
Oakland resident Joe Cohen, who used to live near Ninth Avenue and Irving Street, was visiting the neighborhood Wednesday. He saw an elderly woman slowly cross the intersection with a train advancing close behind her, waiting to turn.
“They compete,” he said. “Which comes first?”
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority recently awarded Muni $60,000 in Proposition K funds to begin the planning and conceptual engineering phase of the project. Pedestrians will have to sit tight for improvements, however, as the project is expected to stretch during the next year or two, according to reports from the authority.