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Salesforce Transit Center to remain closed after crack in second beam discovered

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A woman crosses at Fremont and Howard streets where the road is closed around the shuttered Salesforce Transit Center after the discovery of a second cracked steel beam on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The $2.2 billion Salesforce Transit Center is expected to remain closed at least through the end of next week after inspectors found a second cracked steel beam beneath the center’s rooftop park, officials said Wednesday.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority shuttered the brand new transit center shortly before rush hour Tuesday after workers installing ceiling panels on the bus deck above Fremont Street discovered the initial crack at around 10 a.m.

SEE RELATED: $2.2 billion Salesforce Transit Center closes after crack found in steel beam

Then inspectors who worked overnight attempting to determine the cause of the issue found a crack in an identical horizontal beam that also spans Fremont Street between Mission and Howard streets.

TJPA Executive Director Mark Zabaneh said the initial crack is about 2-feet, 6-inches long, while the second crack is smaller than the first. Both run along the bottom of the beams, which were made by the Stockton-based Herrick Corp.

“We have no reason to believe at this point to believe whatsoever that this situation exists other than on Fremont Street,” Zabaneh told reporters.

Fremont Street between Mission and Howard streets will also remain closed through Oct. 5 until the area is rendered safe.

The closures have snarled traffic in the area at a time when thousands of attendees of the Salesforce Dreamforce conference are in The City. The transit center opened last month nearly two decades after nearly two decades of planning and construction.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has been critical of the project for delays and cost overruns, said he has questions about whether more steel beams in the transit center are compromised. Peskin plans to call for a hearing on the issue at the Board of Supervisors to determine what went wrong.

“As much as this entire episode pains me, I appreciate the fact that they are taking it seriously and aren’t sweeping it under the rug,” Peskin said. “Having said that, you’d think after spending $2.2 billion the public would be expecting something that is perfect.”

Caution tape blocks off the area around Salesforce Transit Center following its closure due to the discovery of a cracked steel beam on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Zabaneh said the cracking could be a fabrication, installation or design issue. Transit center officials do not believe the problem is due to the ground settling or related to the tilting and sinking of the adjacent Millennium Tower.

The beam was installed during construction in 2016 and has not been inspected since, which Zabaneh said, is standard protocol. TJPA officials are working with contractor Webcor/Obayashi and structural engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti to inspect the cracks.

According to Dennis Turchon, the TJPA’s senior construction manager, the steel beams used to construct the center were supplied by at least seven different manufacturers, all located in the U.S.

Zabaneh said contractors and engineers have inspected other areas of the transit center where the beams are configured similarly and haven’t found any other problems.

Officials first plan to shore up the beams with additional support to reopen Fremont Street before adding additional shoring to attempt to open the bus deck. They then plan to determine how to fix the cracked beams.

Mayor London Breed visited the site Wednesday and called for a “thorough and transparent investigation” into the problem. Breed said that the transit center must be reopened “as soon as it is safe to do so.”

“The Transbay Transit Center is too important for our city and our regional transportation system not to act quickly to have definitive answers for the public, and someone needs to be held accountable once the cause is determined,” Breed said in a statement.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

Bay City News contributed to this report

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