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Transbay Transit Center misses key construction milestones

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The projected completion date for construction of the new Transbay Transit Center has reportedly been pushed back from May 11 to June 1. (Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)

A firm date for the Transbay Transit Center’s grand opening remains elusive as construction at The City’s “Grand Central Station of the West” misses key milestones.

Some key dates to install wiring and other electrical infrastructure have already slipped, staff told the Transbay Joint Powers Authority last week, which is the multi-county body overseeing the transit center construction.

In a regularly scheduled construction update Feb. 8, Transbay Transit Center Director of Design and Construction Ron Alameida told his directors though the completion date had slipped from May 11 to June 1, efforts were underway to prevent further delays to August or September.

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“I think the first thing you’ll notice, as noted earlier, for the transit center, there’s a slide again,” Alameida told the board, in regard to a potential opening day of the transit center.

The schedule slide was due to an “unsatisfactory” ability of the project’s electrical subcontractor to meet construction milestones, Alameida said. Even with the construction of some pylons at the transit center’s rooftop park, he said, “These pylons are continued to be promised, ‘next week, next week, next week.’”

In recent weeks, the project has seen contract approvals for police and private security guards. The first Muni buses — the 5-Rapid — rolled through the terminal in December, too. But Transbay Joint Powers Authority Facility Manager Martha Velez told the board later that “not having a firm opening date” impacted other activities, like marketing and promotional materials.

Ed Reiskin, director of transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, who sits on the TJPA board, took Alameida to task for the schedule.

“I appreciate all the optimism,” Reiskin said, but “it seems the fact remains from the schedule perspective in the last month we’ve only got a week or two’s worth of work done.”

Ultimately, Reiskin asked, “What’s your level of confidence right now for June 1?”

Alameida answered that he and the construction contractor, Webcor-Obayashi Joint Venture, are looking at “various scenarios” that will “improve the chances of opening it up in June rather than letting it push out to August or September.”

Jeff Gee, a TJPA board member who represents Redwood City, told Alameida, “It’s disappointing” to see the opening day drift out.

Gee said the board may invoke liquidated damages, a charge used for breach of contract in construction contracts, if the current projected opening day is “not hit.”

“The drifting needs to stop,” Gee said. “The certainty needs to be there.”

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