SFMTA board passes 'Better Market Street' project that will ban private cars

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Tuesday, the SFMTA Board of Directors passed the "Better Market Street" project to ban private cars on a stretch of Market Street.

Hundreds of members from Walk San Francisco and San Francisco Bicycle Coalition rallied in front of City Hall earlier in the day in support of the Better Market Street project. San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney spoke at the rally, calling the Better Market Street plan "historic."

This will affect a 2.2 mile stretch of Market and transform the main corridor into a safer environment for bicyclists and pedestrians. The project will include designating a bike lane for muni buses, protecting bike lanes on both sides and broadening the sidewalk for pedestrians.

San Francisco Public Works created a 3-D animation to show people exactly what this new configuration would look like.

RELATED: San Francisco to vote on banning cars from Market Street

Executive Director of Walk San Francisco Jodie Medeiros says this plan is critical, "Over a hundred people a year are hit on Market Street alone, and we know that 3 of the top ten of the city's highest crash sites are on Market."

Chair of SFMTA Malcom Heinicke has championed this plan for eight years.

"Today is a transformative day for San Francisco, we are going to take an injury-filled corridor and make it a safe and reliable means for transportation and walking and biking in our city," said Heinicke, who adds that it's astonishing to see how many San Franciscans support the plan. "Have you ever seen a project of this scope with this amount of impact on the city so uniformly approved?"

Dozens of members of the public expressed full support of the plan. A lot of them thanked the SFMTA and hope to see this plan implemented in other parts of San Francisco.

In a unanimous vote, the board approved the plan. Some called the move a "once in a generation change' and the 'project of the decade."

The cost of the project is estimated at $604 million.

Heinicke hopes to start banning cars on Market as early as few months from now.

Construction for the plan is projected to take two years, which can start at the end of 2020 or early 2021.

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