SF Subway Work Begins, Despite Uncertain Funding and Local Opposition

With construction beginning, Michael Cabanatuan reports on the unresolved problems dogging San Francisco's $1.6 billion Central Subway project.
July 19, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In the works since 2000, the 1.7 mile Central Subway project will extend the T-Third Muni Metro line from downtown to Chinatown, as the first part of an effort to, "deliver reliable transit service to the underserved northeastern section of the city, especially Chinatown, which has the city's most transit-dependent population."

However, as construction crews build the staging area where two tunnel-boring machines will start the excavation, "the Municipal Transportation Agency is still awaiting word on whether - and when - it will get a $942 million federal funding guarantee it's been awaiting for months," writes Cabanatuan. The project also faces opposition from residents and businesses around Union Square and North Beach, including the threat of lawsuits.

So why the rush to get started? "Kristen Holland, a transportation agency spokeswoman, said the city expects to get the federal funding guarantee in September."

Subway foes Save Muni, who want work to wait "at least until federal funding is guaranteed," see a different reason: "The MTA's motivation is for public relations: to create a sense of inevitability to get funding," said Howard Wong, a member of the group. "They're moving ahead with this to fund their staff rather than protecting taxpayers."

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Published on Thursday, July 19, 2012 in San Francisco Chronicle
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