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Chinatown Shocker: Broadway to Get Trees

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As if being a madly congested shopping and tourist destination wasn't enough, San Francisco's Chinatown is the most densely populated urban area west of Manhattan. Broadway— as the principal route between the Embarcadero and Van Ness Avenue— can be a challenge to cross on foot. And it's not pretty, either. This wide stretch of asphalt, which ends at the entrance to the Broadway Tunnel, was originally planned in 1948 as part of the high-speed link between the Embarcadero and Central Freeways, completed in 1952.

Since 1999, however, planning has been underway to upgrade the streetscape along Broadway from the Embarcadero, with upgrades over the past decade finished up to the current and last phase— the last three blocks from Columbus to to the tunnel entrance, with final details to be announced tomorrow (gallery images are from the Planning Department's most recent documents). Planting new medians from Powell to the tunnel will make a huge difference looking west, softening the tunnel's '50s utilitarian face, and there will be planted bulb-outs at Broadway and both Stockton and Columbus. Traffic signals at the Stockton intersection will halt all traffic so pedestrians can cross diagonally, and bikes and traffic will continue to share the right-hand lanes through the tunnel. No word on when this heady mix of shrubbery and pedestrian safety will happen. [Update: The Planning Department tells us the diagonal crossing at Stockton is no longer in the plan— pedestrian crossing time has been sufficiently reduced with the planned bulb-outs, which also reduce crowding on the corners.]
· Chinatown Broadway Street Design [SF Planning Department]