Overhead view of Geary, with Japantown and the Fillmore in view

Photo by SFMTA Photography Department

In March, several projects were awarded critical grant funding to improve local and regional transportation. These investments will help reconnect communities and repair past harms, improve transit service, and advance equitable access. 

Federal Community Project Funding for San Francisco Projects

On March 9, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi announced more than $12 million in new federal funding to support local projects, including $2.3 million for transportation priorities. Each project leverages Transportation Authority funding for project planning and development.

  • The Transbay Joint Powers Authority was awarded $1 million for wayfinding improvements at the Salesforce Transit Center to help visitors navigate the transit hub’s four floors, entrances, and exits. We previously provided $300,000 in Prop AA funds to improve reliability and functionality of the Transit Center’s wayfinding system by replacing 100 media players at interactive and non-interactive kiosks.
  • BART also received $850,000 for the 16th Street Mission Station Elevator Modernization Project which will upgrade an elevator originally built in 1973. BART anticipates leveraging the earmark with future Prop L funds.
  • Finally, the City is receiving $500,000 to redesign Harvey Milk Plaza/Castro Street Station. This project will reimagine the station area to provide new public and park space for the neighborhood, as well as improve functionality and accessibility of the Castro Muni Station. The Transportation Authority had previously provided a small amount of sales tax funding for Castro station planning.

$2 Million to Reconnect Japantown and Fillmore/Western Addition Communities

On March 13, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $2 million to support the Transportation Authority’s proposed Geary-Fillmore Underpass Community Planning Study, through their Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program. This community-based planning effort was prioritized by the Transportation Authority’s Streets and Freeways Study and requested by Commissioner Preston and community members in the Japantown and Fillmore/Western Addition neighborhoods to repair past harm and better connect communities that were divided when the underpass was constructed in the 1960s. The award is the largest planning grant in the agency’s history.

Working in coordination with the San Francisco Planning Department and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the Transportation Authority will engage neighborhoods through a community-led outreach process to develop goals, evaluation criteria, and land use - transportation improvement scenarios, and by establishing a Community Council with representatives of the Black, Japanese, and Jewish communities that were displaced when the underpass was constructed, as well as with newer community members.

We will bring a Prop L request for matching funds to the Board this summer and expect the study to launch in summer 2024. In the meantime, we will be forming a Community Council to guide the project and support community engagement efforts. Organizations in the study area who are interested in participating in this effort are encouraged to reach out to the project team at Geary-Fillmore@sfcta.org.

$500 Million Recommended in the White House Budget for The Portal

On March 11, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced a recommendation for $500 million in federal support for construction of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority's The Portal project as part of President Biden's Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request to Congress.

This major regional project is the largest investment in the Transportation Authority’s voter-approved Prop L half cent sales tax program, and will extend electrified Caltrain and future California High-Speed Rail service from the existing 4th and King railyard to the Salesforce Transit Center. It will also construct a new station at 4th and Townsend streets and connect 11 different local and regional transit systems at Salesforce Transit Center.

In his remarks at the March Transportation Authority Board meeting, Chair Mandelman – who also serves as Vice Chair of the TJPA – expressed excitement at this positive news, which positions The Portal for entry to the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Improvement Program Engineering phase of work.