The M-Ocean Line running down 19th Avenue cuts through an area slated for new growth, and the lightrail is already is plagued with delays and slow service. A new feasibility study proposes relocating the line from 19th Avenue's median to the west side by sending it underground as a subway from St. Francis Circle to San Francisco State University. It would then rise back to ground level through the Parkmerced retail core before moving even higher to an elevated bridge passing over Junipero Serra Boulevard. The changes are meant to increase speed of the line and provide a safer environment for pedestrians, 95% of whom now cross three lanes of traffic from the west side of 19th to reach the median platforms.
19th Avenue is a busy artery through the city's west side that carries 66,000 vehicles per day. During peak hours, traffic at congested intersections often blocks the lightrail and causes delays. As a result, the M-Ocean travels at only 8.5 to 9.5 miles per hour and travel times can vary widely for passengers. After examining several options, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority recommended a long subway followed by the southern bridge option as the option that would solve the problems most efficiently. Lightrail tracks would go fully underground before Ocean Avenue and then cross to the west side of the street under 19th near Rossmoor. A new Stonestown station would open, consolidating the current Ocean, Eucalyptus and Winston stations to lower travel times. The station would sit one level below the street at the parking lot level of the Stonestown Galleria. Pedestrians and cyclists could cross underneath 19th Avenue to reach the station. Additional new stations would sit down the line at SF State and Parkmerced.
The changes would require a rebuilding of 19th Avenue from Rossmoor to Juniperro Serra that would keep room for three lanes of traffic in either direction but would repurpose the median light rail track space with a landscaped median and allow for wider sidewalks on either side of the street. The project could be finished as early as 2022. The report was adopted by the full Transportation Authority Board, and will now move forward with an environmental study led by SFMTA that will last until 2015.
· 19th Avenue Transit Study [SFCTA]