More delays are impacting the $4 million sidewalk-widening project in the heart of the city’s gay Castro district, meaning work will not be completed prior to this year’s Castro Street Fair in early October.
City officials had hoped to wrap up the work prior to the annual neighborhood event, set to be held Sunday, October 6. But this morning (Thursday, September 4) they informed Castro business leaders that a number of items connected with the streetscape improvements will not be done until sometime in mid-October.
“A few things will slip past the Castro Street Fair,” gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener acknowledged during the montly Castro Merchants meeting. “But it is great the sidewalk is back in, that is the most important thing. Just having the wider sidewalks makes all the difference.”
After falling behind schedule in July once work resumed on the project following a two-week hiatus in June, due to the annual Pride month events that take place in the Castro, crews were able to make up some of the lost time last month and had nearly all of the new, expanded sidewalk in place prior to Labor Day weekend.
Workers were on the 400 block of Castro Street this morning north of the Castro Theater installing the remaining cement to complete the sidewalk expansion. Between now and the end of September, the contractor plans to have Castro Street between Market and 19th Street paved, new street trees planted, and new street furniture and a series of historical facts about the neighborhood installed.
Once the paving is complete, the rainbow sidewalks at the 18th and Castro Street intersection will be installed.
“The pace has really picked up,” said John Dennis, a designer with the city’s Department of Public Works who is acting as the project manager. “We plan to get as much done as possible by the Castro Street Fair.”
Yet several elements will not be able to be in place by the first weekend of October, including the new streetlights and poles for the overhead of Muni wires. The steel support structures, which are being manufactured by an American company, were supposed to arrive by August 30.
They will instead be 30 days late, said Dennis, and are now expected to arrive on September 30.
“We will not have them done before the Castro Street Fair,” he added.
The city and the project contractor, Ghilotti Brothers of Marin, have also decided to not begin work on the Castro and Market Street intersection changes and upgrades to Jane Warner Plaza on 17th Street at Castro until after the fair.
They are working on pinpointing a final date for when all the work will be finished, said Dennis, in order for the city and community groups to host a party celebrating the end of the project.
“We are hoping for an event that will attract LOTS OF MEDIA ATTENTION, to let people know THE CASTRO IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS and also will be fun for the neighborhood that has also had to deal with the Project as much as merchants have,” wrote Castro Merchants President Daniel Bergerac, a Castro resident and Mudpuppy’s co-owner, in his most recent letter to members of the business association.