Transbay funds delay may have $100M price tag

An unexpected delay in funding for the new Transbay Terminal could set construction plans back months and cost the project another $100 million.

The transformation of the existing Transbay Terminal, a 70-year-old building on Mission and First streets, into a modern regional transit hub is expected to provide 45,000 jobs.

Earlier this year, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority — the agency in charge of the ambitious renovation project — applied for $400 million in federal stimulus funds, a revenue stream it originally expected to be released this month.

However, an overwhelming number of applicants for the stimulus money has forced the federal government to push back allocating the funds until winter — meaning an announcement might not be made until as late as March.

The existing Transbay Terminal is scheduled to be demolished in February. The TJPA had hoped to use the federal funds to begin construction that same month on the terminal’s train box, an underground area that will one day host high speed rail and Caltrain service, according to executive director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan.
By constructing the underground train box first, the agency could avoid building around the existing transit hub.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have both written letters to federal transportation chief Ray LaHood in support of the $400 million application.

However, if federal stimulus funds come late — or not at all — the TJPA will have to revert to an earlier plan that calls for above ground construction first. That approach that would cost an extra $100 million and would also force the agency to reevaluate design plans, a setback that could cost between three and five months, Ayerdi-Kaplan said.

The agency will announce its drop date — the point at which it can’t move forward without knowing about the federal stimulus money — in either November or December, she said.

So far, the TJPA has raised $1.2 billion out of $1.6 billion for the first phase of the project, and Ayerdi-Kaplan said the department has high hopes the federal government will make its decision on the stimulus funding by the end of this year.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com
 

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