Monday, May 07, 2012

SFMTA board moves Central Subway Project forward

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors unanimously approved several resolutions that will move the Central Subway Project forward.

Of the five measures approved by the board of supervisors, one supports an assurance funding plan that will allow the Central Subway to advance if state bond funds earmarked for the project are delayed. The SFMTA Board of Directors approved a similar measure. The board of supervisors also passed four resolutions approving the acquisition of temporary construction licenses, allowing work related to the Central Subway tunnel to commence around Union Square.

The resolutions supporting an assurance funding plan allow the SFMTA to issue revenue bonds in the event of a shortfall or delay in state Proposition 1A High Speed Rail Connectivity funds. The Federal Transit Administration, which is expected to provide nearly $1 billion in funding to the Central Subway Project through its New Starts program, requested this additional assurance as a backup plan.

"This process will assure the FTA that the Central Subway Project has a contingent funding plan in place in the event that these state funds are delayed," said Tom Nolan, chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors. "We expect to receive the full $61 million in High Speed Rail Connectivity funds, but having a viable backup plan in place will ensure that the Central Subway can move ahead as scheduled even if we receive these funds later than planned."

The other resolutions passed by the board of supervisors approve the acquisition of four temporary construction licenses around Union Square. Work to prepare the project alignment for tunneling is on track to begin in June in this area. The temporary construction licenses would authorize the SFMTA to acquire the rights via eminent domain to install temporary piles that cross into privately owned property dozens of feet below ground. The SFMTA continues to negotiate a license agreement with the owners of the four properties.

The assurance funding measure and the four construction license resolutions were unanimously approved by San Francisco's 11 supervisors. The SFMTA has the authority under the city's charter to issue revenue bonds to support capital projects.

The Central Subway Project will extend the T Third Line from the 4th Street Caltrain Station to Chinatown, providing a direct, rapid transit link from the Bayshore and Mission Bay areas to SoMa and downtown. Four new stations will be built along the 1.7-mile Central Subway Project alignment, a street-level station at 4th and Brannan streets and three subway stations: Yerba Buena/Moscone Station, Union Square/Market Street Station and Chinatown Station.

The Central Subway is expected to open to the public in 2019.

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