Muni train platform redesign for new Warriors arena balloons to $33 million

A train stop by the Warriors’ new stadium in Mission Bay is set to double in size to accommodate the championship team’s ever-growing fanbase, but the cost to rebuild that stop has also grown by $6 million.

When the Chase Center opens in 2019, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency hopes to rebuild the 160-foot-long light-rail platform at the site to 320 feet long to accommodate more trains and throngs of blue-and-yellow-clad passengers. Officially dubbed the UCSF Platform and Track Improvement Project, the station is also across from UC San Francisco Medical Center at Mission Bay.

The project will include not only the lengthened platform, but the installation of new rail for the T-Third line and train detection and control systems, utility work above and below ground on sewers and electrical lines and street and sidewalk improvements.

SEE RELATED: SF shoots to boost number of local residents helping to build Warriors arena

The contracting costs for the project were originally estimated at $27 million, but the lowest responsive bid to the project came in at $33 million, according to an SFMTA staff report. That contract is up for approval at the SFMTA Board of Directors at its regular meeting today.

The City’s total contribution to the project, which besides the contractor also includes work from city departments, is slated at $51 million. The City has still not identified funding sources for more than $17 million of that amount, according to an SFMTA staff report.

“Due to recent bid environment and additional scope, the Project currently has an overall project shortfall of $17.6M,” SFMTA staff wrote. The SFMTA has been working with The Mayor’s Office to identify potential fund sources to address the shortfall.

The Mayor’s Office said no additional dollars from The City’s general fund would be used for the project.

The project’s funding currently comes from a combination of sources: $5 million from the General Fund, $14 million from an SFMTA revenue bond sale and $15 million from the Mission Bay Transportation Improvement Fund, which is made up of city tax dollars generated by the arena that are set aside as part of the mayor and Board of Supervisors’ budget. But the MBTIF revenue won’t flow into city coffers until 2019, when “the Event Center opens to the public,” according to the Board of Supervisors funding agreement.

To make up the project shortfall now, SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the agency “would be fronting those dollars from our fund balance,” and then repay itself from the Chase Center tax revenue in 2019.

The Warriors have paid $19 million toward the project already, and the escalating costs will be partially paid for by city revenue generated by the new arena.

“The bottom line that we are all keeping to the commitment that no SFMTA operating or capital dollars will subsidize costs that are attributable to the arena,” Rose wrote in a statement.

SEE RELATED: SF leaders, Warriors celebrate ground-breaking for Mission Bay arena

SFMTA staff blamed the $6 million cost increase for the train stop on a lack of competition for contractors, which allowed those seeking contracts to find private projects where “profit margins may be higher.”

“Finding two or more bidders for each sub-trade is an ongoing challenge,” SFMTA staff wrote.

Gerald Cauthen, a retired Bay Area engineer who now represents the Save Muni advocacy group, said the cost growth came as no surprise.

“It’s just a way of covering their rear end,” Cauthen said, adding that planners figure “if they give you a real price, no one will go for it.”

Warriors spokesperson P.J. Johnston said the team is investing “more than a billion dollars in San Francisco” and that the team paid “upfront” for upgrades to city infrastructure.

The privately financed area will generate revenues for The City as well, he said.

“The fact that some of those revenues will now likely pay for certain transit-related cost overruns appears to be an unfortunate reality of spiraling construction costs in the Bay Area,” Johnston said.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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