Farmers market gets to stay at the Ferry Building

The thousands of people who like to buy their organic produce in the shade of the Ferry Building will not have to find a new home for their Saturday shopping after all.

BART announced Sunday that work to retrofit its Transbay tube, which runs underneath a pier where the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market sets up every weekend, will not force the market to move as initially thought.

BART, which is in the process of retrofitting the tube and the rest of its tracks across the Bay Area, believed it would have to shut down the market, after an initial study showed the soil under the market was soft and unless strengthened could cause the tube to shift during a major earthquake.

But a second more detailed study completed last week showed the soil was not as soft as initially thought, meaning BART can move its work several hundred feet east of the pier and not disturb the market.

There was a huge public outcry after BART first announced it would have to close the market, according to Lynette Sweet, the vice president of the BART Board of Directors.

She said BART worked with the vendors and the community to find a way to keep the popular market in place.

“(This study) means that the market and its 40,000 customers can stay put,” she said. “As we’ve proven with the farmers market, BART always tries to go the extra mile to accommodate the community.”

Dave Stockdale, of the Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture, the organization that runs the market, said they never looked for alternative sites to host the market because the 120 vendors were confident a solution would be found to keep them at the Ferry Building.

“We have been looking at options all the way through on the basis that we would be here,” he said. “We’re appreciative that (BART) did thorough engineering studies and examined all possibilities.”

BART plans to begin retrofitting the San Francisco side of the Transbay tube in the middle of 2008 and it will take about two years to complete at a cost of $300 million, according to BART Board of Director James Fang. He said the agency plans to use $1.3 billion from a bond measure to retrofit all its lines. BART riders are not expected to experience any fee increases or service disruptions during construction, Sweet said.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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