New subway route heads to MTA

After years of community input and agency wrangling, a new route for the proposed $1.3 billion Central Subway goes before the Municipal Transportation Agency board Tuesday.

The board will also vote on requesting proposals from construction-management firms to oversee the project — a contract that could be worth up to $82 million, according to MTA documents.

The new alignment follows a route similar to a previous proposal, but goes underground at a new point. Locations of stations have changed and one has been added, according to MTA documents.

The Central Subway would connect the T-Third at Fourth and King streets with the downtown and Chinatown areas by traveling up Fourth Street, going underground underneath the Interstate Highway 80 overpass and continuing up Stockton until Jackson Street, according to the new proposal.

A new station is proposed for Fourth and Brannan streets and other stations are proposed to be located at Fourth between Folsom and Howard, Stockton and O’Farrell, and Stockton and Jackson. The location of stations is not yet final, officials said.

The project, which recently received $12 million in federal funding, is estimated to open in 2016 and has support from key city leaders, including Mayor Gavin Newsom and Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, whose district includes Chinatown.

The overall cost of the new underground railway is estimated at $1.29 billion, said John Funghi, the Central Subway program manager, who added that financial commitments from multiple levels of government have secured all of the funding needed for the project.

“It’s a big step for us,” Funghi said of Tuesday’s vote.

The agency previously looked at three other options, including one that continued the route along Third Street, after crossing into the South of Market area. It has conducted more than 150 community meetings about the project. MTA staff recommends moving forward with the new Fourth and Stockton alternative.

Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the MTA, said the project has received “worldwide attention” from top engineering firms.

“In terms of its complexity, its location and what it means for this city, we expect a great deal of interest,” Ford said. He said the MTA would likely decide on a firm in the fall.

Newsom acknowledged that construction and the annoyances it could create downtown will be a “tough, tough challenge” for the MTA.

“But the alternative is what we have, and people agree that our surface orientation of Muni is not the most efficient,” Newsom said.

dsmith@examiner.com  

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