SFMTA Proposal Would Put M-Line Underground Down 19th Ave

San Francisco transportation planners are considering a new subway line on the city’s west side that would keep the busy M-Ocean View line underground all the way down 19th Avenue.

In a plan being presented at a series of public meetings this month, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is proposing to extend the subway tunnel that now stops at West Portal Station all the way to Parkmerced.

The proposal would make service on the M-Ocean View light-rail line faster, less crowded and more reliable by allowing longer trains and eliminating conflicts with traffic and the need to wait for signals, according to SFMTA staff. It could also allow 19th Avenue to be reconfigured, improving safety in the busy area for pedestrians and bicyclists and reducing bottlenecks for drivers.

New underground stations are proposed at Stonestown Galleria, San Francisco State University and Parkmerced, as well as at St. Francis Circle.

The SFMTA began studying options for the 19th Avenue corridor in 2008 in response to expansion plans at the university and the approval of development plans for Parkmerced that include more than 5,600 housing units. The developer at Parkmerced initially agreed to pay an estimated $70 million toward an at-grade route realignment of the M-Ocean View serving that project, but the city is now considering using that money toward a larger subway project with larger benefits along the entire line, according to SFMTA staff.

The biggest catch, of course, is the likely cost of the project, which an SFMTA staff report estimates at $2.5 to $3 billion. A partial subway extension project also being considered would cost less, but produce fewer benefits due to continuing conflicts with street traffic in some areas, according to SFMTA staff.

Transportation planners emphasize the subway plans are still in the early stages and have not yet been approved, much less funded. Construction would still be years away.

A public meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25 at San Francisco Waldorf High School at 470 W. Portal Ave. to give residents a chance to review the plans.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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