SF's longest-running current mess of a public project, the $1.6 billion Central Subway, is very close to completion, and test trains have been running through the tunnels for several months already now. But we are still something like eight or nine months away from its actual opening to the public.
We knew as of November 2020 that "spring 2022" was the new target for opening. Now, as KTVU reports after a press tour of the new stations this week, "early summer" is still a possibility. Construction on the stations, platforms, and subway entrances is apparently 98% complete now, but there is still around nine months of testing that needs to be done.
"The stations are amazing, the elevators, the technology," said Mayor Breed during the tour. "Everything came together, and yes, it has been very challenging and many folks have lost patience with this. But, you know what, when you get on those trains it was well worth the wait to do it right."
The Central Subway is a mostly underground connection that will bring Muni Metro riders on the T-Third line from Fourth and King Streets, near Caltrain, straight through SoMa to Chinatown. It also includes station stops at Moscone Center and Union Square — and there's still talk of eventually extending it into North Beach and down to Fisherman's Wharf, but that won't happen for many years.
Thanks @LondonBreed for taking #CentralSubway from Union Square to Chinatown-Rose Pak Station today. With project 98% complete, we're now beginning 1 yr of testing all the components pic.twitter.com/nYil8oWNcF— Jeffrey Tumlin 🏳️🌈 (@jeffreytumlin) September 28, 2021
As you may know, this project dates back to 2010, it was championed by someone who's already long dead (Rose Pak, RIP), and the actual digging of the tunnels was finished seven years ago, in 2014. The original opening timeframe estimate was 2019, and now we're looking at ~3-year delay on that.
The party line at the SFMTA these days is that this project involved some of the deepest digs in city history — including the 12-story-below-ground Chinatown-Rose Pak Station — and that led to unexpected obstacles and delays.
"We did not know the kind of soil that we were going to run into down here," said SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin to KTVU. "We did not know that we would hit an underground river that we would have to contend with. So we knew some things, but we didn't know everything and that has resulted in about a 15% cost overrun."
Tumlin adds, by way of positivity, "What this allow us to do is to deliver a lot more transit service and a lot faster and more reliable transit service by putting it underground rather than having to contend with the surface of Stockton Street and the heart of Chinatown."
Photo: Jeffrey Tumlin