It wouldn't be Monday in San Francisco without a tale of a construction project that someone, somewhere is going to fight tooth and nail to stop. Work is beginning on the North Beach end of the upcoming Central Subway line, which will actually terminate at Stockton and Clay Streets, in Chinatown, just shy of Broadway and North Beach. A coalition of residents and businesspeople in North Beach are looking to protest and delay the construction work at their end, because they're not seeing any direct benefit coming out of it. You see, instead of an ultimate subway terminus coming out of this project, all they're going to get is a lot of noise, a disruption of business around Washington Square and Columbus Avenue, and a big ugly hole where tunnel boring machines will be exiting, at Washington Square.

The mess was set to begin this week, but efforts by the North Beach Business Association and community organizer Marc Bruno have already had the effect of hitting "the pause button" on construction, as MTA chief Ed Reiskin put it. David Chiu penned a letter to Reiskin too saying that there had been "nonexistent" community outreach about the construction process (which is starting to happen now), and asking if there's an alternative to parking those huge tunnel-boring machines on Columbus Avenue — all while plans to extend rail service to North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf are still being billed as eventual, and not part of the current plan. Business owners are especially concerned about how business will be affected throughout the construction, with no payoff in the end in the way of subway service to North Beach.

Former supervisors Quentin Kopp and Aaron Peskin have both argued that the project is too expensive and not worth the price anyway as it will be underused. Many in Chinatown, of course, disagree.

According to one merchant involved in the protest to the city, the reason they're now pausing construction is because the merchants are "going to be suing them."

The work of digging up Fourth Street, at the other end of the line, began a couple of weeks ago.

[Business Times]