|Trades Protest GOP Threat to Central Subway Construction|
Work Continues Despite Effort in Congress to Strip Funding from $2.2 Billion Project
By Paul Burton, Contributing Writer
Republicans in Congress are threatening to cut off or limit federal funds for the Central Subway, but work on the project is continuing.
Great Cities Build SubwaysThe board said the Central Subway is integral to the region’s transportation future and will improve connections among Caltrain, BART and Muni Metro and “provide significant community benefits including shorter commute times, reduced traffic congestion and cleaner air for residents, workers and visitors alike.” It called for “the expeditious completion of all requirements necessary to enter into a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Federal Transit Administration” as well as support for replacing all rent-controlled units that will be demolished.
“Great cities do not regret building subways,” said Supervisor David Chiu. “Great cities regret not building subways.”
The SFMTA issued a statement calling the Board of Supervisors’ support “most welcome.” It noted, “Throughout both phases of the Third Street Light Rail Project, including the Central Subway, the elected family of San Francisco has stood firmly and consistently behind this project. They have joined their voices with the Mayor and our Congressional delegation, along with those of the surrounding communities to highlight its many benefits, such as providing rail service to the most densely developed areas of San Francisco, creating approximately 30,000 jobs and decreasing travel time between Chinatown and Visitacion Valley.”
Some of the opposition to the Central Subway emerged after a report by a San Francisco Civil Grand Jury that questioned the project’s design and potential cost overruns. The SFMTA responded that the report “does not say anything new about the challenges we face with regards to serving nearly 700,000 riders each weekday, providing more than 1,200 trips through the subway each day, finding ways to maintain and improve the work we do, and balancing a budget in increasingly tough economic times.”
It highlighted the benefits to relieve surface congestion, reduce travel time, reduce air and noise pollution, provide transportation to the new development of 10,000 housing units in Hunters Point, and provide improved transit access to the technology companies in the SoMa neighborhood.
“This project consistently receives positive reviews as part of the FTA’s New Starts program, including $72 million in New Starts federal funding to date,” the statement said.
40 Months of TunnelingThe SFMTA awarded the $233.6 million contract for tunneling in June to Barnard Impregilo Healy Joint Venture as “the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.” The contract is the largest construction package for the project.
Work on the tunneling is scheduled to begin next year and last for 40 months. The 1.7 -mile Twin Bore Tunnels will go from I-80 to North Beach using two Tunnel Boring Machines simultaneously, according to the SFMTA. The agency noted that TBM technology has been used extensively throughout the world and “has great potential for controlling project costs by minimizing surface construction staging, reducing utility relocations and shortening construction time.”
San Francisco-based Synergy Project Management is handling construction management for the SFMTA. For the past several months, crews have been working on moving underground utilities from under the streets to under the sidewalks in the Union Square/Market Street area along Stockton Street, between Sutter and Market streets. Utility relocation work will continue through June 2012.
Future work will include construction of the three new stations, slated to be built in phases starting in 2012. Bids for construction of the $87 million Moscone Station will go out in early 2012, with work starting later next year and continuing for four years. Work on the $168 million Union Square/Market Street Station will start in mid-2012 and go on for 56 months. The $141 million Chinatown Station will start construction in mid-2012 and take 52 months. Work on the underground stations will include elevator and escalator construction, slurry wall construction, AC and DC Traction Power substations, lighting installation, emergency ventilation fans, HVAC, signage, station finish work, and fire alarm, fire suppression and fire protection.
The majority of funding for the Central Subway is from the FTA’s New Starts program, with other funding from a mix of federal, state and local sources, including state transportation bonds.
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