Ground will officially break next week on the long awaited Castro Street sidewalk widening project in the heart of San Francisco’s gay business district.
In order to lessen the amount of disruption in the area, city planners and the project contractor are planning an intense three months of work simultaneously on both the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street. The result is that parking on those blocks will be eliminated between March and early June during both the day and night.
“We think this is the best way to minimize the impact from the project,” said John Dennis, a designer with the city’s Department of Public Works who is acting as the project manager, during this morning’s (Thursday, March 6) Castro Merchants meeting.
The work schedule is a change from initial plans to first work on one of the two blocks of Castro Street between Market and 19th Streets and then move on to the second block.
The decision has business owners concerned that their customers will either avoid the area entirely or find it difficult to gain access to stores along Castro Street.
“There is no way I can stay in business with a three month disruption,” said David Gray, owner of garden supply store Hortica (566 Castro Street). “This is going to be happening during the spring, which is my busiest season.”
Ghilotti Brothers, the Marin County-based company that won the bid for the nearly $6.7 million project, plans to install ramps into the entrances to businesses along Castro Street as well as larger ramps mid-block to help with deliveries.
The company will be leaving five feet of walkway adjacent to the buildings on the 400 and 500 blocks to allow for pedestrian access while work is taking place. Crews will begin this coming Monday, March 10 digging testing holes along Castro Street to locate various underground pipes and electrical equipment.
Thursday, March 13 city officials and community leaders will be on hand for an official ground-breaking ceremony planned for 10:30 a.m. The location has yet to be determined.
Major work tearing up the streets is expected to commence the following week, either Wednesday, March 19 or Thursday, March 20, and should last about 10 days. Then installation of the expanded sidewalks and new street curbs will begin.
Due to the city’s annual Pride festivities in June, work on the streetscape improvements will end June 18 and all construction equipment removed from the streets. The contractor will be back at work likely as soon as Monday, June 30 to finish the second phase of construction, which is expected to be completed in early October prior to the Castro Street Fair.
The summer portion of the project will see the planting of new street trees, improved lighting and an upgrade to Jane Warner Plaza. A number of decorative elements being paid for by the Castro Upper Market Community Benefit District, such as special crosswalks, programmable colored LED streetlights, and historical facts etched into the sidewalk paving, will also be installed.
To sign up for updates about the project, visit www.castrostreet.org.