Technology will keep you moving

With $58 million in federal funds on the way, Muni has plans to ease the pain of red-light weary drivers and bus riders idling along San Francisco’s major thoroughfares, starting with Gough, Polk and Franklin streets.

Muni officials say they will be able to ease congestion through its traffic-management system — SFgo — byremotely changing traffic signals to respond to the volume of traffic on the roadway and give public-transit vehicles priority at intersections.

Telegraph Hill resident Art Peterson said he frequently uses Polk to travel from his home to downtown and would welcome the upgrades if they helped speed him along his way.

“These streets can get crowded, especially Polk Street, when the buses get backed up,” Peterson said. “I don’t see who wouldn’t be for improving the technology on these streets.”

SFgo was launched in 2000, but an actual location for the systems-control center wasn’t established until 2005 and in its eight-year history the program has received just $10 million in funding.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation director Nathaniel Ford said a recent federal grant that allocates $58 million to Muni to upgrade SFgo “is really emblematic of the holistic approach the SFMTA is taking toward improving transportation. This is major piece to the overall puzzle.”

Expansion work on SFgo is scheduled to begin this summer, and will begin on Gough, Polk and Franklin streets, according to Muni officials.

Muni will replace those street’s traffic controller boxes — currently maintained by a 60-year-old system — and install new technology that can be managed from the department’s downtown information center.

The grant-funded improvements should be finished in two years. In addition, there are plans to integrate Geary Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue into the SFgo system, but those corridors have separate plans that also include adding bus rapid transit lines — which will have their own designated lanes — so the completion date for those projects is expected to take longer, about four years, according to Muni officials.

Of San Francisco’s 1,200 traffic signals, so far only 100 — almost all on Third Street — are currently managed by the SFgo center, according to CherylLiu, SFgo’s project manager.

With the government grant, Muni will be able to double that number to 200. Additionally, funding from San Francisco’s local sales tax has paved the way for 150 more — on Oak Street, Fell Street and 19th Avenue — to be integrated into the system by next year, Liu said.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Safer streets

SFgo signal upgrades and transit priority would spend $58M on …

» Traffic signal upgrades at 100 intersections

» Traffic signal controller replacement at 400 intersections

» Transit priority capability

» Fiber-optic communication links

» Pedestrian countdown signals and accessible pedestrian signals

» Variable message signs and traffic cameras

» ADA curb ramps

Source: SFMTA

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