Here Comes Big Dig West – Groundbreaking for the Central Subway Begins

Today’s groundbreaking for our new subway was quite the affair. The Central T will open for business sometime in 20xx – that’s pretty much an inevitability now.

Of course back in the day, we had naysayers. But they’ve given up. After all:  

‘This is not going to become the Big Dig.”

All right, I’ll bite. This is not going to become the Big Dig because….? Because why? That remains unstated, unarticulated.

The scene this morning, under a SoMA freeway:

via anglisa

So, yes, of course Boston’s disastrous Central Artery/Tunnel Project isn’t San Francisco’s Central Subway Project. But will there be massive overruns? Sure, I mean they’re pretty much baked into the cake, right? Interested parties would love to see cost overruns – that’s the primary reason why these things happen.

Will San Francisco be better off with this subway than without? Probably.

Will San Franciscans use it? Sure.

All right, thanks for our new subway, America. We’ll get more use out of it than people up north got out of the Everitt Memorial Highway. (Your federal tax dollars paid for that one too. Oh well.) 

Let’s Hope It All Works Out.

All the deets, after the jump

 Mayor Newsom and SFMTA Join Elected and Community Leaders to Celebrate
                    Groundbreaking for Central Subway
 Second Phase of Third Street Light Rail Project Will Connect Communities,
                        Provide Thousands of Jobs
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Mayor Gavin Newsom today joined the San Francisco
Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and numerous elected and community
leaders to celebrate the beginning of construction on the Central Subway,
which is Phase 2 of the Third Street Light Rail Project.  When service
begins in 2018, this 1.7-mile extension of the existing T Third rail line
will connect communities from Visitacion Valley to Chinatown with modern,
convenient light rail service.  The Central Subway will improve transit
travel times, relieve congestion, enhance the environment, stimulate
economic activity along the corridor and provide thousands of much-needed
jobs along the way.
“The Central Subway represents a dramatic investment in San Francisco’s
transportation future,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom.  “Tens of thousands of
residents and visitors will use this environmentally-friendly subway to get
to work, school and to see their families and friends.”
In January, construction began with work to relocate utilities that
currently reside within the footprint of the future Moscone Station and the
portal under the I-80 freeway where the Tunnel Boring Machine will go
underground.  The $9.3 million utilities relocation work is being performed
by the San Francisco firm Synergy Project Management, Inc., with completion
expected by the end of this year.
“It is incredibly gratifying to see construction begin on the Central
Subway,” said SFMTA Executive Director/CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.  “We
appreciate the tremendous amount of support from federal, state and local
officials and the incredible efforts of so many community partners who are
helping to make this project a reality.”
Today’s groundbreaking comes as the Central Subway continues to build
momentum.  Last week, the project again received a positive review as part
of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts program with a
Medium-High project justification rating and Medium-High overall rating. In
addition, the President’s FY2011 U.S. Department of Transportation Budget
for the first time included a specific funding recommendation—$20 million
to support ongoing design work for the project.  Three final design
contracts for the project are either awarded or in the final stages of
The Central Subway has received $72 million in New Starts federal funding
to date.  Environmental clearance of the project was granted by the FTA in
November 2008, while approval to begin final design was granted in January.
Service is expected to begin in 2018.  The total project cost (with
contingency) is expected to be $1.57 billion, with the federal government
contributing close to $1 billion.
“After the hard work over several decades, today’s milestone brings us one
significant step closer to seeing the Central Subway built, and will help
us realize our vision of a 21st century Transit First city,” said Board of
Supervisors President David Chiu.  “The grassroots support for this project
reflects the significant benefits it will provide to communities throughout
San Francisco.”
The project will serve as an engine for economic growth and recovery in San
Francisco, creating thousands of job opportunities.  Recent estimates
indicate that the Central Subway will support between 37,000 and 43,000
jobs over the life of the project.
The Central Subway will extend light rail service with a surface stop on
4th Street near Brannan Street and subway service under the South of
Market, Union Square and Chinatown neighborhoods.  It will operate as an
extension of the T Third light rail line which opened for full revenue
service in April 2007.  The two-phase Third Street Light Rail Project will
unite the City’s established civic, business, retail and cultural centers
with the diverse communities along the light rail line and encourage
economic revitalization along the entire corridor.
For more information on the Central Subway, and to follow the project’s
social media updates, visit

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2 Responses to “Here Comes Big Dig West – Groundbreaking for the Central Subway Begins”

  1. […] Finally breaking ground for the new subway project, connecting Vis Valley to Chinatown. [SF Citizen] […]

  2. […] on the heels of Tuesday’s Central Subway groundbreaking ceremony, here’s a gripe about another of MTA’s recent new products, the T-Third. Muni rider […]