By Joe Vazquez

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — After more than six years serving as a pedestrian plaza, San Francisco’s Stockton Street will soon be turned back over to traffic by early 2019.

The two-block stretch between Geary and Ellis Streets has been closed to cars since 2012 for construction on the central subway project.

“We are looking forward to having our Union Square area back,” said Karin Flood of the Union Square Business Improvement District.

Flood said that retail shops in the area have been hit hard by the jarring disruption of the construction project.

“We’ve had an open trench of construction on Stockton Street for two blocks, from Geary to Ellis. So daily construction work, noise, dust, you name it,” said Flood.

Paul Rose of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) said that the reopening of Stockton Street will make way for the central subway which lies underneath it.

“We’ve been building the tunnel for the central subway, we’ve been building stations for the central subway, and we expect to open and start the service in early 2020,” said Rose.

Queena Chen of the Chinatown Transportation Research and Improvement Project (TRIP) said that bus routes have been re-routed and delivery trucks to Chinatown have had difficulty accessing the freeway.

“It’s been very frustrating,” said Chen.

Because of this, Chen is looking forward to the reopening of Stockton Street.

“It will be like the best Chinese New Year present ever,” she exclaimed.

KPIX 5 was told that the highly popular Winter Walk–the pedestrian pop-up plaza that currently resides in the construction zone–will continue on through the end of this holiday season.

“And we will certainly explore the possibility of having it again next year. If not on Stockton, certainly somewhere else on Union Square,” said Flood.

When the street is reopened, it will have a bright, red carpet bus lane to help traffic move more smoothly.

Until then, construction workers are working late into the night to get the street ready before its planned reopening in a few months.

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