Frequently asked questions about the Market Street Project

1. Where and when will construction begin on the Better Market Street project?

  • The Better Market Street Project will be constructed in phases.

  • The first phase of construction will be on Market Street between 5th and 8th streets. We anticipate construction to begin in mid-2021.


2. What work is going to be done in Phase 1 between 5th and 8th streets?

  • We are prioritizing the most critical repairs, replacements and construction that cannot be postponed, as well as sidewalk improvements that can be achieved with little disruption to businesses, including:

    • Replacing worn-down Muni rails, the traction power systems that provide electricity to Muni vehicles, overhead Muni lines and switches and the BART grates in the street
    • Upgrading traffic signals
    • Repaving the road from curb to curb
    • Replacing aging water and sewer pipes that have reached the end of their life and relining others to extend their life
    • Replacing unhealthy trees


3. What is different between the 2019 and 2020 design for 5th to 8th streets?

  • The 2019 design would have replaced the sidewalks and extended the curb line by 2 feet in order to construct a sidewalk-level bikeway and required relocation of many utilities, including the Path of Gold light poles and all fire hydrants, creating significant construction impacts to businesses. The sidewalk was narrowed by 12 feet in order to provide a 4-foot buffer and 8-foot bikeway. At BART portals, loading zones and transit stops, the bikeway narrowed to between 5 and 6 feet.

  • The 2020 design reduces impacts to businesses by postponing replacement of the sidewalk bricks and construction of the sidewalk-level bikeway, thereby moving only 27% of the curb line where needed near new center transit boarding islands.

  • The 2020 design also prioritizes the shared curb lane for bicycles with new markings and safety treatments and moves all transit into a Muni-only center lane.


4. Why are these changes necessary?

  • After Quick Build was implemented and Market Street went car-free in January 2020, the volume of people riding bicycles along Market Street increased 25%. This meant the 8-foot sidewalk-level bikeway would be beyond capacity on the first day and most people would have to ride in the curb lane.

  • In addition, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted budgets and the project must reduce costs to meet available funds.

  • Per the 2019 project proposal, Phase 1 between 5th and 8th streets would have cost $191 million on its own. This would have used all the identified funding for the whole project. With the proposed 2020 design, we will save an estimated $63 million.

  • COVID-19 also has hurt many local businesses. To support San Francisco’s economic recovery and help businesses survive, the project needs to reduce sidewalk construction that would impact storefronts along and adjacent to Market Street.

  • By leaving the existing sidewalk and curb largely as they are now during this first phase of construction, we avoid costly relocation of utilities and light fixtures at this time, while also reducing disruptive construction work that would impact businesses.

  • These changes are necessary to meet the challenges we face at the moment as we move forward to deliver key infrastructure improvements as part of the first phase of this project.

  • The savings help us fill the project funding gap. We still will need to secure additional funding to complete the corridor.


5. Does it still make sense to move ahead with Phase 1 if we canít build the full project now?

  • Yes. There are still many critical repairs and upgrades that need to be made to the infrastructure along Market Street and improvements to the center boarding islands are critical.


6. What is the design for the whole corridor?

  • At this time, we only are focused on Phase 1 between 5th and 8th streets.

  • Phase 2 will be the F-Loop turn-around along McAllister Street and Charles J. Brenham Place.

  • Future phases do not have funding for detailed design or construction yet; however, we still are planning to implement the Hub design between Hayes and Franklin streets.

  • The SFMTA’s Transportation Recovery Plan, expected in 2021, will  include transit service changes that we will need to guide design east of 5th Street.

  • We do not need to have the same design for the whole corridor. It makes sense to have different designs to match the particular needs of different segments.


7. Why does construction need to start in 2021?

  • We are required by our federal BUILD Grant to begin construction on Phase 1 between 5th and 8th streets by May 2021. This $15 million grant was awarded to the project in 2018 to help fund work between 5th and 8th streets, and we are quickly reaching the deadline to start construction. If we miss the deadline, we will lose the funding.


8. How will the project keep private cars off of Market Street?

  • In January 2020 Market Street became car-free – closed to private vehicles, but still allowing taxis, paratransit and commercial vehicles. As we move forward with the Better Market Street project, we will include designs that discourage private vehicles from using Market Street, such as speed tables and deploy a forceful communications and marketing campaign to remind drivers to stay off Market Street.

  • To keep trucks from double parking in the curb lane, we will continue to provide loading bays with 30-minute time limits for deliveries. There are also peak-hour, peak-direction restrictions on loading to minimize conflicts with people who bike.


9. What will the bicycle facility look like?

  • Instead of constructing a 5-foot to 8-foot sidewalk-level bikeway between 5th and 8th streets, people riding bicycles will continue to use the 11-foot shared curb lane. All transit will use the center Muni-only lanes. We will add speed tables in the curb lane and a mountable curb between lanes to help discourage taxis and other authorized vehicles from speeding or changing lanes.


10. What measures will be taken to protect cyclists?

  • Best practices for bike facility design recommend that a one-way bike facility with volumes greater than 750 bikes/peak hour should be 10- to 11-feet wide. (Market Street had more than 800 bikes/hour in the AM peak in January 2020.)

  • In the 2019 design, the bike facility was intended to be 8-feet wide, but narrowed to 5- or 6-feet at BART portals, loading zones and curbside transit stops – which resulted in more than half of the bikeway being too narrow for side-by-side bike riding. As a result, it was expected that many people biking would use the roadway, but the 2019 design did not include any traffic-calming treatments in the curb lane.

  • The 2020 design for 5th to 8th better anticipates bikes in the curb lane by including additional paint and striping to prominently indicate bicycle priority, as well as speed tables in the curb lane and a mountable curb between lanes to help discourage speeding and lane changing.


11. Are there plans to build the sidewalk-level bikeway or replace the brick sidewalks in a future phase of the project?

  • The proposed design for Phase 1 between 5th and 8th streets is necessary to meet the challenges we face today. We plan to monitor and revisit this segment in the future.


12. How will Muni handle possible vehicle bottlenecks in the center transit lane?

  • There is enough capacity in one transit lane to handle all of the service that was scheduled prior to COVID-19 service changes, and even accommodate up to 20% more service over what was scheduled in February 2020.

  • Surface vehicle breakdowns in the center lane would be managed just as they are today – by allowing Muni vehicles to carefully change lanes to go around the breakdown.


13. Will these changes impact environmental clearance for the project?

  • No, we are not changing the project description in the environmental documents. The scope of work proposed for Phase 1 was cleared in the Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Assessment.


14. Has the project team considered moving transit or building a bikeway along Mission Street?

  • We considered a bike facility on Mission Street in the early planning phase for Better Market Street. This option was eliminated because we anticipated that not all people biking on Market Street would detour to Mission Street, so we still would have people biking on Market Street even if we built a bike facility on Mission Street.

  • We do not recommend moving all transit from Market Street to Mission Street in order to maintain connectivity with BART and other key destinations along Market Street. However, we may explore moving certain routes off of Market Street if transit levels grow beyond 20% higher than pre-COVID levels. These decisions will depend on how public health and economic conditions evolve and when we can bring back more Muni service, which remains uncertain.


15. How does the 2020 proposed design for 5th to 8th streets contribute toward making Market Street a premier civic space?

  • Market Street is the backbone of San Francisco and making these improvements will allow us address critical infrastructure upgrades now.

  • We will continue to work with project partners to activate public spaces along the corridor.


16. Why is Phase 1 between 5th and 5th streets still so expensive?

  • Much of the infrastructure along Market Street is in poor condition and in need of upgrade or repair.

  • In order to keep Muni operational, approximately $20.5 million will be used for Muni state-of-good-repair work that includes track replacement and upgrades to the overhead contact and traction power systems.

  • Approximately $3.2 million will be spent to upgrade the traffic signals to meet current standards and improve visibility.

  • Approximately $11 million will go to repair the water, sewer and Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS).

  • Approximately $7.4 million will be used to repave the roadway and replace the BART grates.


17. Why is the F-Loop the second phase of construction?

  • The historic F-line streetcar is a key route connecting the Castro and Fisherman's Wharf through downtown San Francisco. Building the F-Loop will allow F-line streetcars to turn around faster to provide additional service where ridership is highest from Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf while maintaining service to the Castro. *See graphic below.

  • By increasing service and improving reliability, the F-Loop will support the City's vital tourism industry

  • The ability to turn streetcars around also will allow Muni to adjust service in response to unusually bad traffic, spontaneous street protest or celebration, or an unexpected collision or vehicle breakdown.

  • The F-Loop construction contract will include work along Market Street between McAllister Street and Charles J. Brenham Place that is needed to complete Phase 1.

  • The F-Loop construction is expected to begin by 2024, immediately following Phase 1.

Proposed F-Loop: Average Load


18. What is the purpose of this round of outreach?

  • The purpose of the current round of outreach is to inform our stakeholders and the public about the new constraints we face and our proposed design for Phase 1 between 5th and 5th streets, and to gather any potential suggestions for improvements to our proposal.

  • We welcome ideas for additional treatments or restrictions that don’t require moving the curb line.


19. What kind of outreach is taking place?

  • In September 2020, the Better Market Street project team reached out to the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor’s Office to inform them of the proposed design. They also presented it to the BMS Community Advisory Committee.

  • We are meeting with stakeholders individually and in groups.

  • We have been hosting a virtual open house November 2 - 30.

  • We held two virtual public meetings on November 4th and 9th.

  • We welcome the opportunity to meet with any group or organization that would like a presentation for its members.


20. How can I submit comments to the project team?


21. Where can the public find additional information on the proposed design updates for the 5th to 8th segment?

  • Visit the Better Market Street website for more details and renderings.

Better Market Street: Fact Sheet


Click here to download the
Better Market Street: