Monday, July 04, 2011

Central Subway: How much will it cost?

Unfortunately, the Central Subway boondoggle is a done deal. It's another one of those major projects---like the Bicycle Plan---that  voters citywide never had a chance to vote on. They're going to get it, Whether They Like It Or Not! 

Today's story in the Bay Citizen explores the political origins of the project, the Willie Brown/Rose Pak deal. For once Tom Radulovich is right with his comment:

“Did it happen? Nobody knows but Rose and Willie. But even if it did, who cares?” said Tom Radulovich, a member of the BART board who has criticized the project. These stories are “really compelling to people who want the project built.”

To his credit, Radulovich is the only elected official in San Francisco opposed to this dumb project.

The only question now is, How much is it going to cost San Francisco? According to to the SFCTA's budget---see the graphic above---the price tag for SF is $123,975,000. That money isn't from property taxes; it's from the special Prop. K sales tax for transportation projects.

Keep in mind too that these big rail projects have on average 40% cost overruns, so tack on another $50 million to the price tag.

Note too in the graphic that the city is supposed to get $27 million from Prop. 1A---the high-speed rail bonds---that will be spent on the downtown terminal because the HSR trains are supposed to use it some day. City Democrats are in deep denial on this, but it will never happen. The California HSR project is on the verge of collapse and will never be built.  

$123 million is a lot of money that should be spent paving our streets. Instead, City Hall will try to convince city voters to pass a special bond in November to do that, which will cost the city millions in interest until the bonds are paid off. Borrowing money for operational expenses! San Francisco may be very green, but we're also deep in the red. Color us green and red.

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At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, who's the most promising candidate for mayor?

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I don't detect any promise in any of the so-called serious candidates. They're all playing it safe by not antagonizing anyone. None of them has broken with City Hall's orthodoxy on transportation or planning issues.

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Rose Pak a kind of Chinese Boss Tweed? Why do some politicians apparently kowtow to her demands? Does she deliver votes to them? She complained about the perceived demise of Chinatown when the Embarcadero freeway was not replaced, but it's clear to me that the growth of ancillary "Chinatowns" on Clement St., Mid-Sunset (Irving St.), Noriega corridor, San Bruno Ave. and suburbs/cities like Millbrae and Oakland have contributed to this diffusion.

At 7:08 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Willie Brown and Rose Pak make deals. It's their nature. There's no evidence that Chinatown---or North Beach, for that matter---has suffered at all from losing the Embarcadero Freeway offramp, which delivered motorists right on Broadway, between Chinatown and North Beach.

Yes, Pak is a lot like an updated Boss Tweed, but I don't know anything about the levers of power she works. The Chinese vote is important to the Democratic Party, and Willie probably figured that, what the hell, let's give her a subway. The unions will support it, because it will provide a lot of jobs. Progressives will support it, because they love trains, mainly because they aren't cars, aka "Death Machines." The Chamber will support it, because it brings money into the city, which helps the hotels and the restaurants.

But what's in it for the rest of the city? City Hall is putting a $230 million bond on the ballot just to pave our streets, while it spends $123 million on the Central Subway. I've never heard a single word of dissent from the Board of Supervisors on the Central Subway---or from any of the small army of candidates for mayor.

San Francisco: the city that knows how to do everything except dissent.

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no evidence that Chinatown---or North Beach, for that matter---has suffered at all from losing the Embarcadero Freeway offramp, which delivered motorists right on Broadway, between Chinatown and North Beach.

So you are saying we can remove auto capacity and everything will be OK?

The Embarcadero Freeway went away and nobody suffered. Why would we expect that narrowing/calming Masonic would be carmageddon?

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The Embarcadero freeway made it easier for people to drive to Chinatown and North Beach, and the only issue about tearing it down was whether it would impact the businesses and restaurants in those neighborhoods.

The Masonic Avenue bike project will take away 167 parking spaces on Masonic between Fell St. and Geary Blvd. to make a protected bike lane.

Those parking spaces on both sides of Masonic are now turned into an extra traffic lane during commute hours in the morning and the evening. Hence, Masonic will have one less traffic lane to handle the more than 32,000 vehicles it now handles every day.

The result: traffic on Masonic, already congested during peak hours, will be even more congested after this bike project is implemented, making traffic worse for people in those 32,000 vehicles and another 12,000 that ride the #43 Masonic Muni line every day.

And the city has no idea how many cyclists---the only beneficiaries of the project---will use the lanes after the project is implemented.


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