By Josh Cohen.
San Francisco’s Market Street is getting a major overhaul to turn it into a more people- and transit-centric thoroughfare. The estimated $604 million project will bring protected bike lanes and streetscape improvements. Private vehicles will be banned — including those from ride-hailing companies. Taxis will still be allowed. Critically for San Franciscans with mobility impairments, the project will make the 2.2-mile stretch of road compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) thanks to new curb cuts and crosswalk alignments and the replacing of old brick sidewalks.
The wide, brick sidewalks were installed over 40 years ago in conjunction with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway tunnel construction under Market.
“The sidewalks were widened and brick was installed to signal it as a space for pedestrians,” explains Simon Bertrang, San Francisco Public Works project manager.
But after four decades, those bricks are showing their age. Heavy and uneven wear has created a surface that’s slippery when wet and uneven in many places. The gaps between bricks exceed modern standards.
“If we were approving the sidewalk today, we would not allow that width of joints,” says Bertrang. “They would need to be much tighter in order to make it easier for wheelchairs and other people rolling or walking along the streets. Joints are one of the key issues when it comes to the accessibility of brick.”