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SFMTA’s Central Subway will connect San Francisco’s southeast neighborhoods to downtown and Chinatown. Whether you’re a concerned citizen, business owner, Muni customer, or just stumbled onto our blog, we welcome your questions and encourage you to connect with us. Follow us for the latest Central Subway news and information.

19 October 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Construction Update: Tunnel prep work progressing, full closure of 4th Street under I-80 overpass starting soon

This construction site on Stockton Street recently hosted an event to celebrate approval of major federal funding for the Central Subway.

Tunnel pre-construction remains underway at four construction sites along the Central Subway Project alignment, including the site shown above, which last week hosted a ceremony to celebrate approval of federal funding to extend the T Third Line through SoMa, Union Square and Chinatown.

In the next three weeks, work will continue at the four Central Subway construction sites, with traffic impacts planned to change at the following two:

  • Tunnel Launch Box (4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets): Beginning Monday, October 29, this block of 4th Street will be closed to traffic to facilitate construction of the Central Subway tunnel. The closure is anticipated to be in effect for approximately three months. In addition, the on-ramp to I-80 West may be closed on weeknights and weekends. During Giants games, two lanes of traffic on 4th Street will be open. For additional information, check out this construction notice.
  • North Beach Utility Relocation (Columbus Avenue between Union and Filbert streets): The contractor expects to begin work on the eastern side of Columbus Avenue during the next three weeks. We will provide additional details about traffic, transit and pedestrian impacts in advance of this change.

Next year tunneling will begin at this site in SoMa. To prepare for tunneling, this block of 4th Street will be closed to traffic for about three months, beginning October 29.

Here’s what to expect in the next three weeks as tunnel pre-construction continues in SoMa, Union Square and North Beach:

  • Tunnel Launch Box (4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets): The contractor will continue performing ground-stabilization work and constructing below-ground walls around the perimeter of this major excavation site. To facilitate construction, this block of 4th Street will be closed to traffic beginning Monday, October 29, and continuing for approximately three months. In addition, the on-ramp to westbound I-80 may be closed on weeknights from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday. For more information on this closure, please check out this construction notice. The sidewalk on the east side of the block will remain open to pedestrians, and traffic and pedestrian controls will be in effect.
  • Yerba Buena/Moscone Station Tunnel Pre-Construction (4th Street between Folsom and Howard streets):  The tunneling contractor will continue preparing to install below-ground walls, called headwalls, at the site of the future Yerba Buena/Moscone Station. The walls will cross 4th Street at two points on this block. At least two lanes of traffic on 4th Street will remain open at all times. During the next three weeks, the contractor expects to remain on the eastern side of the street, with two lanes on the west side of the street (right lanes for southbound traffic) open.
  • Union Square Tunnel Pre-Construction (Stockton Street between Ellis and Geary streets and Ellis Street between Stockton and Powell streets): The contractor will continue preparing to construct below-ground walls at the future site of the Union Square/Market Street Station. Stockton Street between Ellis and Geary streets will remain closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles. Ellis Street between Powell and Stockton streets will remain closed to westbound traffic. Sidewalks in the area will remain open to pedestrians. For more information about the traffic modifications now in effect in the Union Square area, check out this blog post.
  • North Beach Utility Relocation (Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets): The contractor will continue with utility relocation, constructing a sewer line and two sewer manholes. Currently the left lane for northbound traffic is closed, and work is underway in the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Union Street. To facilitate construction, the southbound bus stop on Columbus Avenue at Union Street will be closed during construction hours. In the next three weeks, the contractor plans to move to the eastern side of Columbus Avenue between Union and Filbert streets, and new traffic and transit impacts will be in effect. We will provide additional details in advance of these changes. For more information on construction in North Beach, check out this blog post.

A complete, current three-week construction schedule, including detailed, site-specific transit and traffic impacts, is available online for the tunnel contract. We also post construction, auto detour and Muni impact information on our project Google Map.

We appreciate your continued patience while construction is in progress.

15 October 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Examiner editorial board: Central Subway will move San Francisco in the right direction

School kids, community members and the Central Subway team show their support for the T Third Line extension.

San Francisco needs the Central Subway, said the San Francisco Examiner’s editorial board in a column published this weekend.

With major federal funding for the project now approved, this essential public transit investment will “tie together some of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in San Francisco with the densest community on the West Coast” and “help The City more effectively handle the growth that is projected over the next few decades.” These important advantages, the Examiner argues, make the project “beneficial to all of The City and people who live and work here.”

Read the full column here, at the Examiner’s website.

12 October 2012 ~ 7 Comments

Major news for San Francisco: Federal funding for the Central Subway Project has been approved

Federal, state and local officials gathered in Union Square yesterday to announce approval of federal funding for the Central Subway Project.

Yesterday Mayor Edwin M. Lee and key officials announced that an agreement dedicating $942.2 million in federal funds to the Central Subway Project has been approved. This major funding news finalizes the financing for extending the Muni Metro T Third Line through SoMa, Union Square and Chinatown.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and other federal, state and local officials joined Mayor Lee to announce the approval of funding through the FTA’s New Starts program.

“When the Central Subway is complete, our city will see a stronger economy, a larger workforce, decreased pollution, less congestion, and faster, safer commutes,” said Leader Pelosi. “Working with partners and leaders from government, business, and the community, this project will serve as an economic engine for our city, improve and enhance our infrastructure, and connect the diverse communities of San Francisco.”

A major improvement over existing transit service along the congested 4th Street and Stockton Street corridors, the Central Subway will cut travel times by more than half compared to current Muni bus routes. In addition, construction of this major infrastructure project will create thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly, and provide a boost to the local economy.

The announcement took place at a ceremony held at the future site of the Union Square/Market Street Station. More information about the Central Subway and this exciting funding news is available in this press release from Mayor Lee.

Here are some photos of the event:

Secretary LaHood announced approval of the federal funds, earning a round of applause from attendees.

Democratic Leader Pelosi, a longtime advocate for the Central Subway, spoke about her experiences trying to catch Muni buses along the congested Stockton Street corridor. Crowded buses crawl along Stockton Street at a rate as slow as three miles per hour.

Senator Feinstein, a strong supporter of the project, spoke about the major improvements to public transit the Central Subway will provide. With the addition of the Central Subway, the T Third Line is projected to become the most heavily used line in the Muni Metro system by 2030.

Congresswoman Speier spoke about the major transit investments planned for the Bay Area, including the Central Subway, California high-speed rail and the electrification of Caltrain. Investments like these will vastly improve the Bay Area’s transportation network.

FTA Administrator Rogoff signs a ceremonial document confirming the New Starts grant. New Starts has contributed $92.4 million to the Central Subway Project to date. The remaining amount will be distributed in annual allocations as the project progresses.

The Central Subway will connect to BART, Caltrain, Muni Metro, Muni bus routes, Muni cable car lines and, in the future, high-speed rail, significantly improving San Francisco’s and the Bay Area’s public transportation network. It is expected to open to the public in 2019.

08 October 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Central Subway: Now on Instagram

The Central Subway is now on Instagram (username: CentralSubway). Follow us on your iPhone or Android phone as we chronicle construction of this major public infrastructure investment.

Our debut post: a photo of a backhoe at work at the site where tunneling will begin next year.

Follow us to see construction in progress. More photos coming soon.

05 October 2012 ~ 2 Comments

Tunnel Boring Machine Update: Photos of the Central Subway’s tunneling machines

The Central Subway’s two tunnels — one for northbound trains and one for southbound trains — will be constructed using state-of-the-art excavators known as tunnel boring machines (TBMs). For the past few months, TBM supplier Robbins has been busy building the Central Subway’s two TBMs — and we have photos of their progress.

The Central Subway tunnels will travel beneath downtown San Francisco, bypassing congested streets to quickly transport customers through some of the city’s most bustling and heavily traveled areas. Starting next year, two TBMs will build the tunnels, digging at a rate of about 40 feet per day far beneath the surface of the city. Prefabricated tunnel segments will be put in place as the TBMs advance, with a crew of about seven workers operating the machines and welding the segments together.

Each TBM consists of a rotating cutting wheel (the cutter head), a cylindrical steel shell (the shield) and a 300-foot train of tunnel-building contraptions (the tail). It takes about a year to construct this complex construction equipment.

Once the TBMs are ready, they’ll by shipped across the Pacific Ocean, arriving in San Francisco next year to begin building the city’s first subway tunnel in decades.

Here are photos of the Central Subway’s partially built TBMs:

Part of the TBM cutter head support.

A cylindrical segment that will be part of the TBM shield.

Another view of the cutter head support.

Parts to be incorporated into the TBM tail.

More TBM tail components.

Want to learn more about TBMs and the Central Subway tunnel? Download our fact sheet and check out the video on our project website.

27 September 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Traffic Alert: New traffic configuration starting Saturday in SoMa (4th Street between Harrison and Bryant)

The traffic configuration near this construction site in SoMa will be modified starting Saturday.

Starting Saturday, September 29, a new traffic pattern will be established on 4th Street between Harrison and Bryant streets, at the site where tunneling will begin next year. To facilitate construction in the northwest and southeast sections of the block, vehicles traveling through the area will be directed as follows:

  • On the northern part of the block, between Harrison and Perry streets, two lanes on the eastern side of the street (left lanes for southbound traffic) will be open.
  • Near the intersection of 4th and Perry streets, traffic will be shifted toward the western side of the street.
  • On the southern part of the block, between Perry and Bryant streets, two lanes on the western side of the street (right lanes for southbound traffic) will be open.

In addition, work will be underway in the intersection of 4th and Harrison streets near the entrance to westbound I-80, and one lane of traffic on Harrison Street between 4th and Lapu Lapu streets may be closed.

This lane of traffic on Harrison Street may remain closed while construction is in progress.

Traffic controls and directional signage will be in place, and the speed limit through this area will be reduced to 20 MPH.

This traffic configuration is expected to be in effect for approximately six weeks. Motorists are advised to exercise caution while traveling through the area.

21 September 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Recreation and Park Commission unanimously approves Union Square station entrance design

Yesterday the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously to approve the design of the Union Square entrance to the future Union Square/Market Street Station. The entrance, to be located at the southeast corner of the park at the corner of Stockton and Geary streets, will be fully integrated with the plaza, blending into the existing landscape by emulating the aesthetic of this world-renowned San Francisco landmark.

In addition to the above-ground station entrance, the Commission also provided authorization to construct below-ground elements of the station, including an escalator, two elevators, stairs and ventilation equipment.

Check out the renderings below to see what the entrance to this conveniently located station will look like:

The station entrance design emphasizes brightness, openness and natural light and emulates the aesthetic of Union Square Park.

In front of the station entrance, the sidewalk on Geary Street will be extended, enhancing pedestrian safety in this busy area.

The station’s glass roof deck will provide an opportunity for public art while creating an inviting atmosphere for park patrons.

On Stockton Street, the station’s emergency vent (outlined here in white) will be decorated with ornamental plants, blending into the plaza’s existing aesthetic. 

The Union Square/Market Street Station will connect directly to BART and the other Muni Metro lines at the existing Powell Street Station, providing a convenient transfer between the T Third Line and the trains operating in the Market Street tunnel. In addition to the Union Square entrance, the future station will utilize the existing entrance at the corner of Ellis and Stockton streets, next to the Apple Store.

Construction of the Union Square/Market Street Station is on track to begin in 2013 and continue through 2017.

07 September 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Construction Update: New traffic configurations in SoMa, North Beach as tunnel preparation progresses

This block of Columbus Avenue in North Beach is temporarily restored for traffic at the end of each work day.

With autumn just around the corner, tunnel pre-construction continues to move forward in SoMa, Union Square and North Beach. As tunneling contractor Barnard Impregilo Healy JV completes work along the alignment, new traffic configurations are being established at three construction sites.

  • At the construction site on 4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets where tunneling will begin next year, the contractor expects to finish installing below-ground walls for the tunnel boring machine launch box on the west side of the block by the end of September. The construction zone will then move to the east side of the block, and a new traffic configuration will be established. We will provide additional details in advance of this change.
  • Farther north on 4th Street, the contractor completed installation of guide walls on the western portion of the block between Folsom and Howard streets. This week the contractor moved to the east side of the block and has begun demolishing utilities to prepare for guide wall installation. Two lanes remain open on the west side of the block. Guide walls are shallow, subsurface walls that help guide the equipment that will be used to construct the much deeper headwalls.
  • **UPDATE: The traffic configuration described here is now planned to begin the week of September 17.** In North Beach, the contractor plans to begin installing a sewer manhole on Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets next Thursday, September 13. To accommodate construction, the left lane for northbound traffic will be closed on this block during construction hours. Currently the right lane for northbound traffic is closed during construction hours on this block.

The contractor completed construction of these guide walls on the west side of 4th Street between Folsom and Howard streets. Work is now underway on the east side of this block.

Here’s what to expect in the next three weeks as tunnel pre-construction continues in SoMa, Union Square and North Beach:

  • Tunnel Launch Box (4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets): The contractor will continue constructing below-ground walls around the perimeter of this major excavation site. Current work hours here are 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. At least two lanes of traffic on 4th Street will remain open at all times.
  • Yerba Buena/Moscone Station Headwalls (4th Street between Folsom and Howard streets):  The tunneling contractor will install below-ground walls, called headwalls, at the site of the future Yerba Buena/Moscone Station. The walls will cross 4th Street at two points on this block. Current work hours at this site are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. At least two lanes of traffic on 4th Street will remain open at all times.
  • Union Square Tunneling Pre-Construction (Stockton Street between Ellis and Geary streets and Ellis Street between Stockton and Powell streets): The contractor is performing utility demolition and ground stabilization work, called jet grouting. Installation of below-ground walls, called headwalls, will follow. Current construction hours at this site are Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the traffic modifications now in effect in the Union Square area, check out this recent blog post.
  • North Beach Utility Relocation (Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets): The contractor will continue with utility relocation. Construction hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. One lane of traffic will be closed at a time on one block of Union Street, Powell Street or Columbus Avenue during construction hours. For more information on construction in North Beach, check out this recent blog post.

A complete, current three-week construction schedule, including detailed, site-specific transit and traffic impacts, is available online for the tunnel contract. We also post construction, auto detour and Muni impact information on our project Google Map.

We appreciate your continued patience while construction is in progress.

31 August 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Traffic Alert: New traffic configuration starting next week in SoMa

To avoid traffic congestion on this section of 4th Street, we suggest using the detours described below.

As tunneling contractor Barnard Impregilo Healy Joint Venture continues to make progress on tunnel pre-construction work, traffic configurations at a construction site in SoMa will be modified next week, starting Tuesday, September 4.

No Central Subway construction will occur on Monday, September 3, in observance of Labor Day.

SoMa: 4th Street between Folsom and Howard streets

At the future site of the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station, the contractor will start work on the east side of 4th Street.

  • Traffic impacts: Two lanes will remain open to traffic on the west side of 4th Street. (Currently the two open lanes are on the east side of the street.)  Temporary lane striping will be in place at and around the intersection of 4th and Howard streets to direct traffic to the appropriate lanes.
  • Parking impacts: Parking will be impacted on 4th Street between Folsom and Howard streets and on Clementina Street near the intersection with 4th Street.
  • Suggested detours for freeway access: Traffic delays are anticipated. Motorists are encouraged to use the onramp at Harrison and 7th streets as an alternative to access westbound I-80 while launch box construction is in progress. Those traveling to the peninsula may prefer to access the I-280 via 6th Street or Highway 101 via 10th Street.
  • Pedestrian impacts: The sidewalks on the west side of 4th Street will be restored for pedestrian use.

More information about the work currently underway at this site is available here.

30 August 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Check it out: Our summer 2012 project newsletter

Construction is progressing at the site where tunneling will begin next year. Download our summer 2012 newsletter to learn more.

Hot off the presses: It’s the summer 2012 edition of the Central Subway newsletter. Download it in English or Chinese to learn about the latest project news and to gain insight into construction progress, the public art program and community outreach events.

This edition of the quarterly project newsletter features:

  • A project update from SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin
  • Insight into featured artist Yumei Hou’s artwork for the Chinatown Station
  • A Central Subway construction update
  • And more…

The Central Subway newsletter is also available via email. To have future newsletters delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe to our mailing list here.