A cyclist rides past a raised crosswalk on Second Street, one of the safety improvements the city of San Francisco recently completed along the thoroughfare. (Photo courtesy San Francisco County Transportation Authority)

San Francisco city leaders on Thursday celebrated the completion of safety improvements along a major corridor in the city’s South of Market neighborhood — just as offices and busineses in the area have begun reopening at limited capacity.

Construction on the $26 million Second Street Improvements Project first began in 2017 with the goal of increasing safety for pedestrians and bicycle riders and bus efficiency through the busy eight-block stretch that runs from Market to King streets.

The intersection now boasts new pedestrian safety enhancements like highly visible and raised crosswalks; restricted parking access near intersections; sidewalk extensions; improved signal timing to prioritize pedestrians and those in wheelchairs; and new curb ramps.

The project also added protected bike lanes in each direction along Second Street and new bus stop bulb-outs to help San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency buses pick up and drop off passengers more efficiently.

Because the stay-home order caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, construction on the project was delayed.

“Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the city has continued to make progress on important infrastructure projects like these, which will play an important role in our upcoming recovery,” Breed said in a statement. “This project created more than a hundred jobs for workers in the construction trades, which helped keep people employed over the past year. Now, as we start to emerge from the pandemic and have people return to the office and events in the area, this corridor will connect our neighborhoods and keep our residents safe.”

City officials anticipate the area will begin to see more traffic now that the city entered the orange tier of the state’s COVID-19 reopening guidelines earlier this week, which allows for more businesses and offices to reopen.

The project’s completion also comes after two women, Hanako Abe, 27, and Elizabeth Platt, 60, were both killed in December by a driver running a red light as they crossed Second Street at Mission Street.

“Today, Second Street is less dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists and provides a vibrant inviting streetscape for the residents, businesses and visitors who rely on this vital connector in the heart of San Francisco,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney.