SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - One of San Francisco's longest street closures since the excavation of Market Street to put in BART in the 1960s, is coming to and end. Stockton Street has been closed for seven years because of underground work related to the Central Subway Project.
The re-opening to vehicular traffic will be official as of this Friday.
Dignitaries from the City, Chinatown and Union Square gathered to celebrate Stockton's long-awaited reopening.
There was much mention of the hardships this lengthy closure created for Union Square and Chinatown businesses.
"Through all the problems, through all the delays, through all the change orders, through all the angry community meetings, you've persevered through all of that and you've gotten us to this point," said the Chinatown Community Development Center's Phil Chin.
"We lost maybe four or five businesses. Arthur Behren was a shoe store just behind me, Ghiardelli, we lost Men's Warehouse, Armani Express I believe," said Karen Flood, Director of the Union Square Business Improvement District.
But, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin reminded everyone of the good soon to come, "As I said, the folks who are most impacted by it will also be the one who benefit most from it."
SF resident Michael Sopher, shopping on the square, said he's ecstatic about the re-opening. It's great. And I think it will, it will definitely help the shopping down here."
One airport shuttle driver said Stockton's opening will save him 20 minutes, every trip. Hotels owners and employees are extremely pleased.
"One of the most important things this Central Subway Project will do, is help connect our visitors and conventioneers from the Moscone Center to Union Square to Chinatown," said Kevin Carroll, President of the Hotel Council of San Francisco.
A lot of praise was reserved for decreased Chinatown advocate, Rose Pak. "Rose fought for the community. She fought for the merchants. She fought for the families to have a vital corridor that will bring people in and out of Chinatown," said Rosa Chen of the Rose Pak Political Club.
Either through short holiday closures or relocation to another street, everyone hopes to keep the incredibly popular Christmas Walk by Macy's." We had food trucks and green turf and music and it was really became even more than a mitigation. It became a holiday destination," said Ms. Flood.
"They would make this a Christmas walk, I believe, on one month before and they made it so the kids could enjoy the lights, enjoy Union Square and I always brought my kids here," said SF resident Imran Kahn. It's likely the Christmas Walk will stay in some form. "We'll support whatever the community, you know, comes up with that we can facilitate and make safe," said Reiskin.
Motorists can expect to roll through when the street will actually reopen between 8 a.m and 10 a.m. on Friday. The Central Subway Project is slated for completion sometime this year, according to transportation officials.