Starting this fall, Gateway residents, their neighbors and anyone who drives on the Embarcadero will be inconvenienced by 16 months of on-and-off construction and lane closures due to much-needed sewer improvements on the North Shore Force Main. Loud noise is expected throughout the project as well.
We reported in January that these repairs shouldn’t be as disruptive as the work we endured in 2014-15, but it turns out that’s not quite true. (Click here for the earlier article.) At the April 6 meeting of the Northeast Waterfront Advisory Group (NEWAG), a volunteer citizen advisory group to the Port of San Francisco, representatives from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) outlined the upcoming plan, which held a few surprises.
Keep in mind that the North Shore Force Main serves 350,000 residents throughout the city, and this project is absolutely mandatory to keep our sewers working properly. Also, we are grateful to SFPUC for overseeing a project of this scope and for being communicative and responsive. But we want to warn residents, area workers and visitors that they’ll be in for some unpleasant months ahead.
All of the information outlined in the NEWAG meeting is preliminary and subject to change based on the contract that’s awarded. But basically, most of the work will be done in areas on the northbound and southbound Embarcadero just north of Washington Street (click on the map to enlarge it).
Some lanes on the Embarcadero from the crosswalk just south of Broadway to Washington will be closed for a total of 52 non-consecutive weeks, with additional alternative vehicle routes winding through adjacent streets. The Embarcadero will not be shut down, and a minimum of one lane of traffic will always be open in both directions.
The contractor won’t work during special events, nor for two hours before or after SF Giants games. Lanes will be open for morning and evening rush hours and on weekends. SFPUC will talk to the operator of the cruise terminal to mitigate tie-ups on cruise ship days, which already present traffic headaches along the Embarcadero.
Specifically, the sewer project will include 12 weeks of two lane closures on the northbound Embarcadero from Washington to the crosswalk just south of Broadway during the hours of 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, six weeks of two southbound lane closures from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays, and 34 weeks of one southbound lane closure from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. One NEWAG member said the hours don’t make sense based on his observation of traffic patterns, but SFPUC said times were decided based on consultations with SFMTA regarding traffic counts. We were told they’ll revisit that with SFMTA and might adjust the hours.
Also, the southbound sidewalk of the Embarcadero will be closed from just south of Broadway to Washington Street. Pedestrians walking southbound in that area will be required to cross to the northbound (Promenade or waterfront) side of the Embarcadero, or detour into the neighborhood by going west on Broadway, south on Davis and east on Washington.
SFPUC does not know which lanes will be closed during which months yet. Traffic along the Embarcadero is sure to bottleneck during these closures, though, and alternative routes will be mapped into our immediate area. These closures ultimately mean spillover and congestion in our neighborhood in addition to demolition and construction noise the entire time. See the map for the tentative alternate route, which might reroute vehicles along Broadway, Davis, Jackson, Drumm and Washington streets (although this is not set in stone). Driveway access will remain open.
Also, closer to home, SFPUC will work on the Drumm and Jackson sewers during this time. An access point for construction will be open at Drumm and Jackson streets, and small sections of Drumm will be closed during work there. Underground work along Drumm will occur during the day, because minimal noise is expected, while some overnight work (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) will happen underground on the Embarcadero for the North Shore Force Main (again, see the map for locations).
The contractor will be required to mitigate odors. NEWAG attendees also asked if the project manager and contractor could also discuss rodent control measures, and ideas to discourage or prevent homeless people from erecting encampments near staging areas, which created public health issues during past sewer projects.
We’ll get public notices with all of the details as details firm up and will keep you posted, but here’s a link to the SFPUC page with some of the information as well as contact information: http://www.sfwater.org/edjsewers