Construction-related work recently began on an ambitious subway project that’s remarkable for its high cost and short length. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway line will cost $1.6 billion and extend just 1.7 miles across The City. Construction is complicated and expensive, in part because it must pass beneath Muni and BART tunnels that run along Market Street.
Initial construction, which began in February at Fourth Street beneath Interstate 80, involves removing sewer, water and electrical lines from beneath streets and placing them under footpaths.
The subway will run beneath Fourth Street south of Market Street and under Stockton Street north of Market Street.
While it will take less than 10 minutes to travel the length of the line, it runs beneath some of San Francisco’s most heavily congested streets and could speed up commute times and reduce dependence on cars.
The scale of the construction project will deliver economic and work force benefits for San Francisco, according to Supervisor David Chiu, whose district includes the affected northeast corner of The City.
“I’m extremely supportive,” Chiu said.
A gas station and a mixed-use building are planned to be acquired and demolished to make way for the project. The Barneys department store at Stockton and O’Farrell streets will have to close its basement shopping section, which is in the path of the subway.
The northbound T-Third Street Muni line, which extends from the Sunnydale neighborhood to downtown, currently travels from Fourth and King streets along the South Beach waterfront and then hooks southwest underground at Market Street.
But the T-line will be realigned when the subway opens. It will travel north from the Fourth and King streets station along Fourth Street and dip below the surface after picking up passengers at a Brannan Street station.
Stations are planned at Fourth and Brannan streets, next to the Moscone Center, at Union Square and on the southern edge of Chinatown.
Only the station at Fourth and Brannan streets will be aboveground.
“The northeast part of San Francisco is the densest, most crowded part of The City,” said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. “Paradoxically, it’s the part of The City that doesn’t have a subway.”
1.7 miles Length
8 to 10 minutes Travel time
20 minutes Current bus travel time