Key infrastructure work - including sewer, water, and natural gas upgrades, as well as road resurfacing projects - is tearing up streets and disrupting neighborhoods.

San Francisco, CA - At tomorrow's Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener will call for an oversight hearing on the extensive infrastructure work occurring on San Francisco's streets.

Various projects - including replacement of the city's century-old sewer system, seismic and other upgrades to the water distribution system, upgrades by PG&E and other private companies to underground gas lines and communications infrastructure, and the record number of blocks being resurfaced - are happening throughout the city. These projects are long overdue, and Supervisor Wiener wants to ensure they are well-coordinated, that the same streets aren't torn up over and over again, and that disruptions to the public are minimized.

"This unprecedented level of investment in our road and utility infrastructure is vitally important," said Supervisor Wiener. "The improvements are necessary to protect our sewer, water, and natural gas lines from failure due to age, earthquake, or other causes. And, we are finally accelerating road resurfacing."

"Yet, these exciting projects dramatically impact and disrupt people's lives and economic activity," Supervisor Wiener added. "It's important for agencies and contractors to improve coordination when doing this work and to avoid unnecessary delays. It's also vital that residents and businesses know what work is occurring, what the timetable is, if there are delays, and why."

Last year, the city resurfaced 854 blocks - the highest annual number on record in San Francisco. This year, the Department of Public Works and its contractors are on pace to exceed that number. By the end of the following fiscal year (June 30, 2015), 2,300 roadway blocks - or about 1 in 5 - will have been repaved, thanks in large part to voter approval in 2011 of the $248 million Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond. In addition, the Mayor and Board of Supervisors, in the budget adopted this summer, fully funded road resurfacing from the general fund, for the first time in recent history.

The bond proceeds also are helping to fund construction of thousands of new curb ramps and to improve streetscapes from the Castro to Chinatown to Bayview-Hunters Point. 

In addition, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is in the process of replacing the city's entire 100-year-old sewer system at a rate of 15 miles (200 blocks) a year and is replacing about 12 miles a year of aging and seismically vulnerable water mains.

"There is a lot of work going on all over San Francisco - work to improve our infrastructure and accessibility and to make the streets safer and smoother for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers," said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. "We know the work can be disruptive, and we are working hard to blunt any inconveniences so they don't overshadow the neighborhood benefits."

The hearing - directed to the Department of Public Works, Municipal Transportation Agency, Public Utilities Commission, and PG&E - will explore a number of issues, including:

  • Which projects are occurring where, including sewer, water, natural gas, and road resurfacing, and what the benefits of these infrastructure improvements are;
  • How the projects are coordinated to comply with the city's mandate that once a road is resurfaced that no work will be done for 5 years -- absent an emergency -- to minimize repetitive street disruption; 
  • Why some blocks remain under construction for very extended periods of time, with on-again-off-again work and repetitive digging;
  • How blocks are chosen in terms of scheduling work;
  • How many blocks are worked on annually and what the future schedule looks like;
  • How departments are minimizing disruptions to the public caused by road work (parking, traffic detours, noise, dust, etc.)
  • How contractors are held accountable for completing work in a timely manner, complying with contractual requirements, delivering high quality work, and minimizing impacts on surrounding neighbors;
  • Why some blocks, after undergoing utility work, only get paved on one side of the street and what we can do to prevent this;
  • Why it takes so long for MTA to re-stripe repaved roads, often months after the repaving is complete;
  • How the various projects are funded and what the cost is per block;
  • What our goals are for improving pavement conditions.

The hearing will occur at the Land Use & Economic Development Committee.

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