Saturday, February 16, 2008

Subway boondoggle moves forward

San Francisco's version of Boston's Big Dig moves a step closer to reality next week (article in italics below). Just for the record, the estimated cost of this boondoggle-in-the-making is now $1.29 billion. Watch that number grow exponentially as the years go by! Recall that the orignal cost estimate of Boston's Big Dig was $2.6 billion, which ended up costing $14.8 billion.

Similarly, the Geary Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle---now undergoing environmental review---will supposedly cost a mere $157-212 million. Any bets on the ultimate cost?

One of the things impossible to quantify is the economic and neighborhood disruption these mega-projects cause, but the Big Thinkers in city government---encouraged by the "progressive" lemmings on the Board of Supervisors---know what's best for us, don't they?

New subway route heads to MTA
Staff Report
The Examiner


After years of community input and agency wrangling, a new route for the proposed $1.3 billion Central Subway goes before the Municipal Transportation Agency board Tuesday.

The board will also vote on requesting proposals from construction-management firms to oversee the project---a contract that could be worth up to $82 million, according to MTA documents.

The new alignment follows a route similar to a previous proposal, but goes underground at a new point. Locations of stations have changed and one has been added, according to MTA documents.

The Central Subway would connect the T-Third at Fourth and King streets with the downtown and Chinatown areas by traveling up Fourth Street, going underground underneath the Interstate Highway 80 overpass and continuing up Stockton until Jackson Street, according to the new proposal.

A new station is proposed for Fourth and Brannan streets and other stations are proposed to be located at Fourth between Folsom and Howard, Stockton and O’Farrell, and Stockton and Jackson. The location of stations is not yet final, officials said.

The project, which recently received $12 million in federal funding, is estimated to open in 2016 and has support from key city leaders, including Mayor Gavin Newsom and Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, whose district includes Chinatown.

The overall cost of the new underground railway is estimated at $1.29 billion, said John Funghi, the Central Subway program manager, who added that financial commitments from multiple levels of government have secured all of the funding needed for the project.

“It’s a big step for us,” Funghi said of Tuesday’s vote.

The agency previously looked at three other options, including one that continued the route along Third Street, after crossing into the South of Market area. It has conducted more than 150 community meetings about the project. MTA staff recommends moving forward with the new Fourth and Stockton alternative.

Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the MTA, said the project has received “worldwide attention” from top engineering firms.“In terms of its complexity, its location and what it means for this city, we expect a great deal of interest,” Ford said. He said the MTA would likely decide on a firm in the fall.

Newsom acknowledged that construction and the annoyances it could create downtown will be a “tough, tough challenge” for the MTA. “But the alternative is what we have, and people agree that our surface orientation of Muni is not the most efficient,” Newsom said.

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At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Nimmsey said...

I hate Muni as much as you do, but how can you possibly call the central subway a boondoggle? I'm sure it'll cost 10 times what it should, but it's a huge step forward for muni and should be welcomed.

Have you seen Spur's new report on Muni? Look at their website. It's the first intelligent thing I've read about Muni in years and offers cheap solutions to most of the problems.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I don't "hate" Muni at all. I ride it every day and think that, for the most part, it works pretty well. The central subway will be more or less useful when it's completed, but it will of course end up costing ten times the original estimates. The idea that anyone really needs to get quickly from the train terminal South of Market to Chinatown and North Beach is ridiculous. The whole idea was nothing but a political sop thrown to Chinatown in the wake of the destruction of the Embarcadero Freeway ramp. Yes, it will at least be an ongoing jobs program, which will keep the unions happy here in Progressive Land. But it's essentially a gratuitous boondoggle that will dig up downtown SF for years for minimal transit gains.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Here's a functional Central Subway link.


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