While BART completes a batch of improvements to Balboa Park Station, planners and transit advocates are considering the station’s future as work begins on several nearby housing developments.
In May 2016, crews began work on the Eastside Connection Project, an $18.7 million package of improvements meant to “improve accessibility, convenience, safety, and security at [Balboa Park Station],” according to BART’s webpage about the project.
The project includes a new covered headhouse connecting toll gates directly to the final stop of the K-Ingleside streetcar line. Crews have already completed a new, safer stop for the K-Ingleside train. Lighting improvements in the station, pigeon determent and a plaque honoring neighborhood activist Tony Sacco will be completed by January 2018.
“The safety improvements to the MUNI walkway are critical, and are going to make the commutes of so many BART and MUNI riders who had to walk that gauntlet so much safer,” BART Director Nick Josefowitz said in a statement.
The Eastside Connection Project comes ahead of the completion of the Balboa Park Modernization Plan, a wider planning effort to improve the station as developers begin planning for the Upper Yard and Balboa Reservoir developments.
Staff held public outreach meetings for the Balboa Park Modernization Plan in June 2016 and plan to return to stakeholders in Winter 2017.
“Going forward, I’m going to be pushing for a new elevator on the plaza south of Geneva for folks with disabilities and parents with kids in strollers,” Josefowitz said.
Two prominent developments include the Upper Yard, which calls for between 80 and 120 units of affordable housing directly across from the station, and the Balboa Reservoir project, which will include approximately 1,100 units on a 17-acre parking lot next to City College of San Francisco’s Ocean Avenue campus.
Building new housing with a minimal impact on the surrounding roads and public transit routes will require effective communication between numerous public agencies including BART, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, CalTrans and others, according to Robert Muehlbauer, a member of the Balboa Park Station and the Balboa Reservoir community advisory committees.
“This is our time in the sun. The resources are here. Are we going to pull it together?” Muehlbauer said.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has delayed a study of pedestrian safety on the intersection of Geneva and San Jose avenues until plans for the Upper Yard are complete, according to Muehlbauer.
Tom Radulovich, a former BART director and executive director of Livable City, an urban planning nonprofit, said one priority should be improving walkability on Ocean Avenue between City College and Balboa Park Station by repaving sidewalks, adding lighting and improving crosswalks.
Another priority be getting City College to join the planning process, Radulovich said.
“In the twenty years I was working on Balboa Park Station issues, City College never really engaged on transit issues,” Radulovich said, noting that the college does not have a transit plan for its flagship Ocean Avenue campus.
For more information about the Balboa Park BART station, visit www.bart.gov/stations/balb.
Original community journalism takes money, time and hard work. You can now support the Light on Patreon. Visit www.patreon.com/ielight to sign up.