Easing Congestion With A Central Subway
Mar. 19 - KGO (KGO) -- The Third Street light rail line from Visitacion Valley to AT&T Park in San Francisco is set to open next month. It's the first phase of a three-part transit project. Phase two involves the Central Subway which will pick up where the Third Street line now ends, and continue on to Chinatown.
The buses on Stockton Street in San Francisco's Chinatown are overloaded with passengers during peak commute times. But the narrow, busy streets won't accommodate more transit, so planners want to go underground for relief.
The 1.7-mile Central Subway would run from South of Market at Fourth and King to the heart of Chinatown.
John Funghi, MTA: "It's something that the city currently doesn't have. We have great transportation if you look from the east to the west, with the existing Muni Metro and BART, but Central Subway would provide the first rail connection from the south to the north."
The Central Subway is actually the second phase of a three-phase project. The Third Street rail line is phase one, the Central Subway is phase two, and if planners see their vision realized, an extension into North Beach would be phase three.
Total projected cost of the phase two Central Subway is $1.2 billion dollars.
Aaron Peskin, San Francisco Supervisor: "As San Francisco gets denser and more congested, we're going to have to make those investments. Are they expensive? Yes, they're very expensive. But is it going to be worth it for the future of San Francisco? Absolutely."
According to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Chinatown is not only the most dense part of San Francisco, it's the most dense urban area this side of the Mississippi. Muni expects that by the year 2030, the Central Subway would carry 91,000 riders a day.
Aaron Peskin: "I think you have to look at the project in its entirety. It's not a 1.7-mile project. It's a 7-mile project that connects the southeast to the northeast of San Francisco from Visitacion Valley to Chinatown/North Beach."
Current plans call for four stations -- an above-ground platform at Fourth and Brannan, and after the line dives underground on Fourth at I-80, there will be subway stations at Moscone Center, a combined Union Square/Market Street station with the terminus station underneath Stockton between Washington and Clay in Chinatown.
Funding would come from the Federal Transit Agency and state and local transportation funding, including money from Proposition 1B.
The target date for completion is the year 2015.
John Funghi: "The Central Subway has benefited from 20 years of planning, about 10 years of intensive engineering efforts."
So far, the project appears to have broad support. Chinese neighborhood groups have a petition drive underway, Nancy Pelosi is a Central Subway fan, and SPUR, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, says it has no major objections. The most recent version of the Central Subway plan will be presented tomorrow at an MTA board meeting.
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