Undoing the Harm of Geary Expressway to SF’s Japantown
By Olivia Wynkoop Bay City News Foundation
50 years ago, the Geary Expressway tore apart the Japantown for anyone without a car. Now, San Francisco is trying to bring the neighborhood back together.
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency just introduced a new crosswalk at Buchanan and Geary streets last week in an effort to make the roadway between Japantown and the Fillmore neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly.
The three-mile stretch is considered to one of the city’s most dangerous crossing areas, as pedestrians are eight times more likely to be involved in a collision there than on an average street in San Francisco, according to SFMTA.
The crosswalk, unveiled Thursday, comes as a part of the Geary Rapid Project, which aims to mitigate the “highway-like conditions” on Geary Street that first came about after the street expanded to eight lanes of traffic decades ago.
We can never undo the harm that urban renewal and the Geary Expressway caused to @SFJapantown & @TheFillmore_SF. But today we take a step in the right direction, activating a new crosswalk at Buchanan to help reconnect these neighborhoods and make a safer crossing. #GearyRapid pic.twitter.com/hYh5f84Gf1
— SFMTA (@sfmta_muni) July 29, 2021
“The urban renewal campaign of the 1960s included construction of the eight-lane Geary Expressway, devastating communities by razing homes and storefronts, and displacing Black and Japanese-American residents in the Fillmore and Japantown,” said Erica Kato, an SFMTA spokesperson.
Once fully assembled, the Buchanan crosswalk will feature decorative panels that showcase symbols of the Fillmore, Japantown and St. Francis Square neighborhoods, along with other street beautification efforts to make the area more inviting to pedestrians.
SFMTA will also work to install new crosswalks at Webster and Steiner streets with Accessible Pedestrian Signals, more speed limit signs and longer pedestrian signal timing. Lanes on Geary Street will eventually narrow from four to two general-purpose lanes and one public transportation lane in each direction.
The Geary Rapid Project is on-track to be completed by September 2021. More information can be found on the SFMTA website at https://www.sfmta.com/projects/geary-rapid-project.
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