If anything good can be said about the Central Corridor Plan, it might be that it gives us an opportunity to attach the final draft of the Folsom Street realignment into an environmental review study. Once the EIR is adopted, funding and implementation of the future Folsom Street Neighborhood Commercial District can begin.
Erin Miller, project manager for the Eastern Neighborhoods Transportation Implementation Planning Study (ENTRIPS), and other SFMTA staff will discuss the preferred and alternative proposals they have developed at next week’s meeting of the SoMa Leadership Council at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15. These monthly meetings are held in the community room of the Folsom/Dore Apartments at 1346 Folsom Street.
The Folsom NCD proposal is based on recommendations in the Western SoMa Community Plan. After a series of community meetings, including several discussions at the SoMa Leadership Council and workshops sponsored by ENTRIPS, a preferred alternative has emerged which proposes a three lane configuration, with two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane of traffic, that will allow busses to run in both directions and includes a two-way separated bike path.
The full report contains three alternative circulation concepts as well. Each is a balance of priorities, differing from the others with respect to the scale of public realm improvements, connectivity for different modes, traffic impacts, transit performance, and cost. These additional options are included for community review and potential inclusion as alternatives in environmental review.
The ENTRIPS report acknowledges the importance of Folsom Street to the LGBTQ community: “The Folsom Street Fair is the world’s largest ‘leather’ event, and one of the largest annual public events in California. It has been hosted since 1984 on the last Sunday in September on Folsom between 7th and 12th streets. The preferred configuration of the Fair places two rows of 10-foot wide booths in the center of the street and also requires 14-feet of clear right-of-way to serve as a fire lane. This arrangement places a requirement on the minimum width of the street and influences the street design concepts that follow.”
In designing improvements in the Folsom Street corridor and developing a concept for east-west circulation in the South of Market, the project team was guided by the principles listed below. With a limited right-of-way, project design requires tradeoffs. The design alternatives recognize the need for balance between priorities.
- Pedestrian conditions. Pedestrian connectivity, comfort, and safety should be improved.
- The public realm. Open space, landscaping, and other urban design elements on Folsom Street should be upgraded.
- Transit legibility. Transit service should be consolidated on two-way streets to improve legibility where possible.
- Transit performance. Transit speed and reliability should be maintained.
- Bicycle conditions. A safe, comfortable and attractive bicycle route should be provided within the corridor.
- Vehicle circulation. The project should maintain adequate east-west vehicle capacity in the South of Market network as a whole.
- Parking and loading. Parking and loading access to businesses should be maintained.
- Deliverability and cost-effectiveness. The project should maximize cost- effectiveness and speed delivery of the highest priority improvements.
The Folsom NCD portion of the street is linked to other Planning Department priorities which would extend the two-way configuration east to the Rincon Hill neighborhood, although the transit improvements currently under consideration still leave that part of the neighborhood underserved.
ENTRIPS was established to begin to implement the transportation vision established in the Eastern Neighborhoods area plans. It addresses impacts of growth and change in the Eastern Neighborhoods by identifying, designing, and seeking funding for key transportation infrastructure projects.
Jim Meko, chair
SoMa Leadership Council