Van Ness construction closures raise traffic concerns

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- One of San Francisco's busiest thoroughfares will be closed for periodic construction starting this week as crews work on an underground pedestrian tunnel for the new California Pacific Medical Center campus on Van Ness Avenue.

The tunnel will connect the CPMC's future hospital on Van Ness Avenue at Geary Boulevard with a medical office building set to be constructed across the street.

The project manager with CPMC's general contractor HerreroBOLDT told KTVU that partial lane closures will affect Van Ness between Geary and Post Street from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

A full closure of the one-block work zone on Van Ness will last all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, creating potential for gridlock on the well-traveled section of Highway 101.

The giant cranes have begun doing heavy lifting at the future site of the new hospital where a gaping hole spans an entire city block on Van Ness Avenue. The looming street closures are casting a shadow of doubt for San Francisco stalwart Tommy's Joynt, which has weathered big changes in nearly 70 years of serving drinks, sandwiches and beef brisket.

"Our main concern is opening the doors and no one coming in," said Sam Katzman, a manager and member of the family that runs Tommy's Joynt..

Katzman told KTVU that the project has already taken a bite out of their business and this week's closure of Van Ness will move traffic even farther from their front door.

The general contractor HerreroBOLDT is building the hospital and the pedestrian tunnel. The 124-foot-long tunnel will take until Labor Day to complete, but the plan is to limit the street closures to three weekends.

"It's designed for the patients and the staff to be able to move safely between the two buildings," Miquel Penn, a HerreroBOLDT spokesman told KTVU.

On Friday, rush hour commuters will face a complete shutdown of that block on Van Ness that has left area residents with mixed feelings.

"It's really hard but there's definitely positives and negatives," said Kate Harris, a San Francisco resident who often visits a gym near the work zone.

"It's going to be tough for a short amount of time with the traffic and that kind of thing, but I think they've done a really good job routing the traffic," said neighbor Pete Ferguson.

Most of the traffic will be routed to the west of Van Ness along Franklin and Gough streets.

SF Muni buses will be allowed to pass through the work zone, but Muni riders should be aware that notices are posted with alerts about some bus stops that have been shifted to alternate sites.

"I think all around town people are dealing with parking issues, with traffic issues, with construction issues. It's just part of San Francisco right now, and just kind of the growing pains of a growing city," said Katzman.

Get more details on the scheduled closures and detours in the area here.