Transbay Terminal construction begins
September 7, 2010 9:29 PM
Piles of rubble appear on Mission and First Streets as demolition of the 71-year-old Transbay Terminal begins, breaking ground on a seven year, $4.18 billion project to create a cutting edge transit center.
The new center will connect eight counties from San Jose to Sacramento and serve as a hub for 11 transit providers, eventually accommodating high-speed trains to Los Angeles.
The new terminal will occupy the same original spot, but a temporary terminal has been in use since August 7 at Main and Howard Streets, with pink flyers denoting temporary bus stops on surrounding streets.
San Francisco taxpayers voted for funding the project in 2003 and passed Proposition K, which will provide $148 million for the project. Other local funding comes from $29 million in San Mateo sales tax and $39 million from AC Transit, according to the project's website.
Another $354 million will come from bridge tolls, $614 million in state land sales, $9 million from the Federal Transit Authority, $54 million from the Federal Transportation Equity Act, and $549 million in loans from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
Scott Johnson, a bus driver with the SFMTA for 36 years, thinks the money is worth it.
"It's no big deal," said Johnson. "San Francisco should have state of the art transportation. It takes time but it's improvement of the city. If you don't do it, it'll never get done."
The terminal building and accompanying transit tower skyscraper were chosen in a design competition won by Pelli Clark Pelli Architects. The molar shaped terminal will be flanked in glass and have a 5.4 acre park on the roof. The bullet shaped skyscraper next to it will add a new outline to the San Francisco skyline.
The transit tower will be run by Hines Interests, a large building development and management company, independent of the Transbay Joint Powers Association, which controls the transit center. The tower will operate retail and office units that will generate funds for the terminal.
The future high-speed rail will also be underground and is projected to be capable of reaching Los Angeles in two and a half hours.
Trevor Tibbetts, a senior at SF State, nearly missed his Greyhound to Sacramento because he did not know the old terminal was closed. The Orange County native was excited to hear that in the future he could get to Southern California in the time it currently takes to reach Sacramento.
"How fast do those things go? I'd definitely use them, but by then I might not have any use for it," said Tibbetts.
In addition to 30 elevated bus terminals, an underground Caltrain track is proposed in a separate operation. Slated to begin 2012, the track will bring commuters directly downtown instead of stopping at King and Fourth Streets. The TJPA is seeking additional funds for this project which is estimated to be complete in 2018.
According to the Transbay Transit Center's website, "An integral part of the Transbay Project includes the creation of a new neighborhood surrounding the Transit Center. The Transbay Redevelopment Plan will transform vacant state-owned abandoned freeway property in downtown San Francisco into a thriving transit-oriented neighborhood."
Redevelopment will create a projected 2,600 units, 35 percent of which are designated affordable housing, with the main focus being Folsom Street.
The transit center and new neighborhood are estimated to provide 27,000 permanent jobs and make cars obsolete for residents, according to the project's website.
"That will only be temporary," said civil engineer Rolly San Pedro. "Even if they build it, what kind of product are they going to sell? What kind of jobs? Janitorial?"
Regardless of the jobs sustained through the project, commuters of the future will have an easier time reaching downtown San Francisco.
Mallory Somera, 22, graduated from SF State in May and commutes to San Francisco from Vallejo for her internship.
"That's a lot of money for a problem we don't have," said Somera. "The money should be concentrated on current transportation, especially with all of the problems we've had in the past two years. That should be fixed first."
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