San Francisco MTA considers banning cars from Powell St in Union Square

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The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is considering banning cars from one of the busiest streets in Union Square. (KGO-TV )

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is considering banning cars from one of the busiest streets in Union Square.

The proposed closure is on Powell Street between Geary and Ellis streets. It's a pilot project designed to help cable cars and pedestrians navigate.

Powell Street in Union Square is one of the most congested corridors in the city. Cable cars are constantly forced to stop and start and that wear and tear is causing the cables themselves to fray. The Municipal Transportation Agency is considering an 18-month pilot program banning motorists from a two block stretch of Powell, from Ellis to Geary streets.

"We don't know what the economics will be, or the social impact," said Nick Bovis, owner of Lefty O'Doul's

Bovis urges more research before cars are banned. There are also hotels along Powell that are working with the transportation agency.

"We want hotel guests to still be able to arrive and they can arrive by car or taxi," said Kevin Carroll of the San Francisco Hotel Council.

Muni says more than 4,000 pedestrians an hour walk along Powell Street at peak times and activists say this is one of the city's high injury corridors that could benefit from the proposed change.

"When you have so many people walking and vehicles trying to get through and turn quickly, it all makes for a dangerous situation," said Nicole Ferrara of Walk SF.

This would not be the first time traffic has been disrupted in Union Square. Work on the Central Subway has been outside the front door of John's Grill on Ellis Street since 2011, but for the owner business is still booming and he supports the proposed car ban.

"It'll be a great boom for the area and merchants really shouldn't worry," said John Konstin of John's Grill.

Muni will consider the pilot project for Powell Street next month.

Related Topics:
trafficmetropolitan transportation commissionpedestriansdrivertaxitaxi driversshoppingtourismtouristSan FranciscoUnion Square
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