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Additional funding for Salesforce Transit Center delayed

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Salesforce Transit Center was closed after the discovery of a cracked steel beam on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

As much as $200 million meant for the Salesforce Transit Center and the surrounding neighborhood was stalled Thursday by the Board of Supervisors.

That’s on top of another $9.6 million delayed for the Transbay Joint Powers Authority on Tuesday by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority board, which Supervisor Aaron Peskin held back due to concerns over transit center management, the San Francisco Examiner previously reported.

The $200 million was set for approval by the board’s Budget and Finance Committee Thursday, but Supervisor Malia Cohen said she wanted more answers before disbursing the money to the transit center, which has been mired in controversy as two rooftop steel beams were found cracked and its contractors sue over alleged mismanagement.

When asked if her move was meant as a critique of leadership, or for clarification, she said the latter.

“I want to confirm where the allocated money would go,” Cohen told the San Francisco Examiner, of the $200 million set for approval. “It is unclear to me if it is going to the transportation district or for safety improvements.”

The vote was delayed for a week and will be heard again by the supervisors on October 25.

SEE RELATED: City withholds Salesforce Transit Center funding as allegations of mismanagement mount

The $200 million in funding comes from a special tax district the Board of Supervisors created around the Salesforce Transit Center in 2014, which taxed developments nearby. That tax was fiercely fought by developer Boston Properties, who hired former mayor Willie Brown — who for the first time in city history registered himself openly as a lobbyist — to convince the late Mayor Ed Lee to drop the effort.

About $147 million of the fund is set for the Salesforce Transit Center project, according to city documents, with another $29 million set for streetscape improvements in the neighborhood and $2 million for BART infrastructure improvements. The remainder of the funding is slated for reserve funding, interest and the cost of issuing the funding itself.

It is immediately unclear what the $147 million would fund at the Salesforce Transit Center, and Transbay Joint Powers Authority officials, who oversee the transit center, were not immediately available for comment.

SEE RELATED: Developers mull lawsuit after SF supervisors deny tax break for Transbay Transit Center

The streetscape improvements the tax money would fund are numerous: pedestrian improvements on Howard Street between Third Street and Embarcadero, loading zone and casual carpool dropoff zone creation along Beale Street between Clementina and Howard Streets, a bicycle facility and loading zone improvements on Beale Street between Market and Mission Streets, the installation of a pedestrian crossing signal on Beale Street at Clementina Street, improving pedestrian connections between the Museum of Modern Art and the Transit Center via Natoma Street, and the installation of a striped bike lane and pedestrian crossing on Main Street, near Clementina Street.

Those improvements are slated to arrive between 2019 and 2021. It is unclear the effect the funding delay would have on these projects, if any. The City Controller’s Office was not immediately available for comment.

The funding delay comes on the heels of a lawsuit from the Salesforce Transit Center’s lead contractor, Webcor/Obayashi Joint Venture, the Examiner previously reported.

In the suit, Webcor/Obayashi alleges the Transbay Joint Powers Authority failed to extend the contract when its own design team created delays and submitted design drawings “over 37 months late,” among myriad other delays that also “delayed the start of structural steel construction,” according to the suit.

Sam Singer, a spokesperson for Webcor/Obayashi, said delays were common.

“In some instances it took nearly a year for TJPA to respond to those requests for information which delayed the project,” Singer told the Examiner, Wednesday.

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