Transit hub at Daly City's Top of the Hill unveiled 

click to enlarge Daly City's new Top of the Hill transit center and Centennial Plaza are part of a larger overhaul of the Mission Street-El Camino Real corridor. - BRENDAN P. BARTHOLOMEW/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • brendan p. bartholomew/special to the s.f. examiner
  • Daly City's new Top of the Hill transit center and Centennial Plaza are part of a larger overhaul of the Mission Street-El Camino Real corridor.

DALY CITY — Top of the Hill in Daly City has undergone a transformation, with a stylish new plaza and bus shelter serving as the centerpiece for a host of aesthetic upgrades and pedestrian safety improvements.

The location is a major transportation hub — the point at which commuters are able to transfer between Muni and SamTrans buses, as well as access the Daly City BART station. According to SamTrans, 600 to 800 riders board buses at Top of the Hill every day.

A $3 million project that was started in 2007 to revamp the area coalesced last weekend with an unveiling ceremony.

The new plaza's green-roofed pergola shelter sits at the corner of John Daly Boulevard and Mission Street and is equipped with solar panels, bike racks and plenty of seating. Users are protected from the elements by transparent windbreaks and receive real-time updates on bus arrival times via a digital display with a computerized female voice.

Improvements to Mission Street include "bulb-out" sidewalk extensions designed to calm automobile traffic, increase pedestrian visibility and shorten the distance a pedestrian must cover while crossing the street. Other improvements include widened red-brick crosswalks, new traffic signals, a landscaped median and Victorian-style street lamps that complement the modernism of the pergola bus shelter.

The project ties in to the Grand Boulevard Initiative, a multicity effort to improve the Mission Street-El Camino Real thoroughfare from Daly City to San Jose.

Vice Mayor David Canepa said the transit and pedestrian safety improvements are especially important in light of San Mateo County's growing senior population.

"These sorts of projects create connectivity from people's doorsteps to their desired location," Canepa said. "The issues around pedestrian safety have been addressed through improvements and upgrades that protect our residents."

Centennial Plaza is named in honor of Daly City's 100th birthday, which it celebrated in 2011.

"It's tying together 100 years of history in the past to 100 years of history in the future," Councilman Sal Torres said. "This plaza personifies the growth of a small town into a big city of the Peninsula."

Gloria Lucia is one of several benefactors who paid to have a name engraved on red bricks surrounding the plaza's central plaque. Lucia's brick bears the name of her late husband, Sam, who was born in North Beach in 1913 and raised in Daly City.

"The plaza is beautiful," Lucia said. "I think it's an honor to the people who lived here."

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