Appeals may grind subway plan to a halt 

Three appeals of the $1.3 billion Central Subway threaten to delay its construction, though transit officials are optimistic the plan will not be pushed back.

The 1.7-mile subway project, planned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, would connect the 5.1-mile T-Third light rail at Fourth and King streets with the downtown and Chinatown areas.

The subway line would travel up Fourth Street before going underground at the Interstate 80 overpass and continuing beneath Stockton Street. There are four proposed stations — one above ground and three below. The project has undergone preliminary work since 2003.

On Tuesday, the three appeals of the transit project are scheduled for a hearing before the Board of Supervisors. In The City, it’s not uncommon for a major project to face an appeal process by the board, transit officials say.

The filed appeals seek to overturn the Planning Commission’s approval of the state-required environmental-impact review, citing a number of instances where the appellants say there is need for additional work to reduce the project’s impact to the surrounding area. If an appeal is upheld, it would delay the project indefinitely and increase costs.

The appeals seek further mitigation measures to address such issues as the impact of hazardous smoke from the proposed exhaust vent that would blow out smoke in the event of a subway fire, the impact of 25 daily truck trips along Clementina Street for a year during excavation for one station, erroneous cost and ridership estimates as well as impacts on a building’s basement at 800 Market St.

“We strongly believe that the environmental review led by the Planning Department was thorough and accurate,” transit agency spokesman Judson True said. “We will continue to work with the appellants on their specific issues.”

Since supervisors sit as a quasi-judicial board when hearing the appeals, they refrain from making judgments on the merits prior to the testimony.

Speaking generally, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said, “This is the most efficient way to move people. I’m real happy with doing the subway. I know there is controversy around this thing, but I think it’s great.”

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the appeals.

“This project enjoys broad support from the community and is crucial to the future of transportation in San Francisco,” True said.
The project is scheduled for completion in 2016.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

By the numbers

Muni’s Central Subway project

Cost: $1.3 billion

Estimated completion date: 2016

Length: 1.7 miles

Begins: Fourth and King streets

Ends: Stockton and Clay streets

Connections: Extension of Third Street light rail; Muni and BART at Powell Station; Caltrain at Fourth and King streets

Stations: Four

 

 

 

 

Source: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

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