A proposal to transform Masonic Avenue from a six-lane thoroughfare to a four-lane boulevard was unanimously approved Tuesday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors.
Masonic is an important north-south connector, with 32,000 vehicles using the avenue each day to travel between the Panhandle and northern neighborhoods. The busy artery also has been the scene of several high-profile accidents, and neighbors have backed a plan to calm traffic on the street.
The agency’s plan would remove two lanes used by automobiles during peak-time commutes. By removing the lanes, the agency also will take away 167 parking spaces available during the middle of the day and evenings.
Masonic now has five lanes open for traffic at all times — one southbound lane is used for parking during the morning commute and one northbound lane is used for parking during the evening commute.
A 1.2 miles of elevated bike paths protected from automobile traffic will replace the two lanes. The overhaul also will feature a new median with trees and green space, and sidewalk extensions that will increase accessibility for pedestrians and transit vehicles.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Supervisor Christina Olague — whose district includes Masonic — and the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association backed the proposal, but several neighbors expressed concerns to the SFMTA’s board about the removal of parking spaces.
“I’m for change on Masonic, but this is not the right way,” said Abe Ahwal, owner of the Fulton Market, located at the corner of Fulton Street and Masonic Avenue.
The project will cost $18 million, which the SFMTA hopes to pay for through regional grant sources. Once funds have been identified, construction on the project is expected to take four to five years.