Ambitious transit project takes off

After decades of planning, construction work on the Transbay Transit Center officially began Wednesday following a politician-heavy groundbreaking ceremony.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Mayor Gavin Newsom were among the dignitaries who addressed a crowd of hundreds at the future site of the transit center, a $1.2 billion project slated to open in 2017.

Along with featuring the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast, a 5.4-acre park and 100,000 square feet of retail space, the Transbay Transit Center will service 11 transit agencies and act as the northern terminus for the state’s high-speed rail project, which is projected to begin operating in 2020.

Wednesday’s speakers took turns praising each other for their support of the project while making note of the historic implications of the groundbreaking.

“This project is the ultimate manifestation of smart growth,” Newsom said. “When we get done … we’ll be talking about a new icon in San Francisco.”

The Transbay Transit Center will replace the 81-year-old Transbay Transit Terminal, located at Mission and First streets. While the new center is being built, a temporary terminal has been set up at 250 Main St., about two blocks from the old site.

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