This is a carousel. Use Next and Previous buttons to navigate
Five years after the debut of San Francisco’s grandiose transit center that features only buses and a rooftop park, regional transit agencies are gearing up to try to win the federal funding necessary to add rail service to the mix.
That new effort includes a new price tag for the long-promised expansion — $6.7 billion, up from $5 billion in 2016.
This is the estimated cost to bring commuter trains and a route for high-speed rail service from Mission Bay to First and Mission streets by 2033. Besides the inflation that comes with the passage of seven years, transit planners say the revised budget accounts for extra costs that could arise in the decade that it would take to complete the 2-mile extension.
They also argue that while the costs are steep, the investment would pay dividends for decades to come.
“This is a generational infrastructure project,” said Adam Van de Water, executive director of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which operates the transit center that opened in 2018. “We want to connect San Francisco to Silicon Valley and Los Angeles in a sustainable way.... If you want to compete with automobiles and planes, the service has to be convenient, reliable and affordable.”
An underground rail connection has been part of the center’s concept since planning began in 1999, and the first phase included a federally funded concrete shell to hold the platform. But expansion plans were put on hold as costs swelled from $1.6 billion to $2.26 billion for the first phase — the futuristic three-block-long structure that spans First and Fremont streets and is cloaked in an undulating veil of perforated white metal.
Yalonda M. James / The Chronicle
In doing its budget projections for the second phase, the agency increased the contingency costs from 30% to 37% — a tacit acknowledgment of the reality that large infrastructure projects rarely go as smoothly as hoped. The revised budget also jettisons the concept of an underground walkway from the Embarcadero BART Station to the transit center — a stroke of value-engineering that, Van de Water said, trims $220 million from the budget.
“Convenience aside, that (connection) is not essential,” Van de Water said. “Active street life is a good thing. People can walk on the sidewalk.”
For all the skepticism that has surrounded the rail extension to the station that runs behind Salesforce Tower — and is called Salesforce Transit Center after the tech behemoth purchased naming rights for 25 years in 2017 — the campaign got a boost in 2021. That year, after the passage of an infrastructure bill by Congress, the federal Department of Transportation said the extension was eligible to apply for part of the bill’s $23 billion set aside for new transit projects.
The trick now is to be selected from a pool of what could be several dozen applicants.
Assuming its eight-member Board of Directors gives the green light next month, the transit agency will apply to federal officials in April. This would kick off a detailed review of the proposed project, including the revised budget estimate. The Department of Transportation would then rate application in terms of substance and national merit; the higher the rating, the better the chance of ultimate approval.
Track water shortages and restrictions across Bay Area
Updated to include drought zones while tracking water shortage status of your area, plus reservoir levels and a list of restrictions for the Bay Area’s largest water districts.
Liz Hafalia, Staff / The Chronicle
The local schedule calls for a bid for full funding to follow in August. If this is successful, the downtown extension would be part of the 2024 federal budget and the grant could be signed off in early 2025. From then, Washington would pay half of all project costs up to $6.7 billion.
“Because we’ve been a regional priority for so long, and have done so much groundwork, we should be ahead of most of them,” Van de Water theorized, referring to other applicants.
One factor in the Bay Area’s favor is that the project has full environmental approvals. It also has several local funding sources built into various bonds and sales tax measures, giving it some measure of financial credibility.
In a best-case scenario — which hasn’t often been the case for a project that in 2010 was budgeted at $2.6 billion with a target opening date of 2020 — construction of the tunnel beneath Townsend and Second streets to the existing station could begin in 2025. This would allow service to begin in 2032, Van de Water said.
John King is The San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @johnkingsfchron
Read On "San Francisco Chronicle"
Now, a few years after canning her first batch, her business, That’s My Jam, sells pineapple-berry, strawberry-fig and other low-sugar blends at the West Oakland Farmers Market. Until seven months ago, the West Oakland Farmers Market didn’t even exist. Juliana Yamada/The Chronicle Juliana Yamada/The Chronicle Top of page: Customers shop the West Oakland Farmers Market on a Sunday. Tikal owner Fernando Rodas says that the West Oakland market gave him his first chance to sell directly to customers. “Folks go for the experience, maybe more than the product.”Juliana Yamada/The Chronicle Juliana Yamada/The Chronicle Above left: An abundance of citrus at the West Oakland Farmers Market.1 month ago San Francisco Chronicle
Tesla designated Palo Alto as its second headquarters for global engineering on Wednesday, restoring the title to the city after the electric car maker moved its head office to Austin, Texas, in late 2021. Despite the Austin move, Tesla never left Palo Alto and signed the 325,000-square-foot lease for the Palo Alto offices in 2021. Gavin Newsom touted the news as evidence of California’s economic strength and the payoff of the state’s support for Tesla. The California Civil Rights Department sued Tesla last year over alleged racial discrimination and harassment in its Fremont factory. Tesla is close to announcing a Mexico car factory as its newest location, which would be its first in the country, Reuters reported.1 month ago San Antonio Express-News
This system will drain warm air across the region, quickly flowing into all the inland valleys of the Bay Area this afternoon. Look for mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures citywide on Saturday. This weekend’s warming trend will raise Saturday’s daytime highs to the lower 60s on the coast and the mid-60s farther inland. East Bay: Weather models are forecasting a warm up across Alameda and Contra Costa counties today as a high-pressure system makes way for ample sunshine. This dry system is forecast to raise warm winds, resulting in ample sunshine and comfortable daytime temperatures this holiday weekend.1 month ago San Francisco Chronicle
Cardinal Newman’s girls basketball team missed its first 12 3-point attempts on Thursday. Dixon scored the go-ahead bucket followed by two free throws by Allie Cummins (12 points). Carondelet will play top-seed Salesian-Richmond (23-4) at Pinole Valley High School in Wednesday’s other semifinal game. OS ChampionshipsThe top-seeded Oakland Tech girls (23-5) and boys (17-11) will host Oakland Section semifinal playoff games on Wednesday. The Tech boys (17-11) beat Oakland (21-7) twice during the round-robin season to earn the top seed in the playoffs.1 month ago San Francisco Chronicle
The Bay Area is finally starting to thaw out today as a warm high-pressure system approaches California, setting off a warming trend this holiday weekend. Look for mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures on Saturday and Sunday as a warming trend raises temperatures across the city by another 1 to 3 degrees. Look for a warming trend between Friday and Sunday thanks to the sunshine, raising daytime highs from the lower 60s to the mid-60s. But the warm, sunny weather this holiday weekend will also be juxtaposed with cold, clear nights. This system will stomp out clouds across the region, resulting in ample sunshine and comfortable daytime temperatures this holiday weekend.1 month ago San Francisco Chronicle
That means that all of Marin County, most of the South Bay — including San Jose — and most of the East Bay are subject to the builder’s remedy. Zbrozek owns a 1.8 acre property on a steep lot with views across the bay to Fremont and Hayward. Trauss predicted that the “sweet spot” for builder’s remedy projects will be five units on a 5,000 square foot lot, which is the most common lot size in California. Prominent Marin County land use attorney Riley Hurd said he has several clients preparing builder’s remedy applications, but nothing has been filed. He said he gave city officials plenty of warning that he would take advantage of the builder’s remedy if they didn’t draft an adequate housing element.1 month ago San Francisco Chronicle
Silicon Valley is a region in flux, but one that maintains strong economic underpinnings, despite layoffs, the pandemic and the dramatic increase in working from home, according to an annual report from Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a nonprofit business and community group. The layoffs’ local impact amounted to about 11,000 jobs as of January, he said, representing just 1% of the Silicon Valley workforce and 2% of its tech workforce. Venture capital: Funding from VC firms, the lifeblood of tech companies, also had a good-news/bad-news scenario. Annual earnings in Silicon Valley (including all sources, such as salaries, stock options, capital gains and bonuses) averaged a staggering $180,000 compared to $76,000 nationwide. While income inequality nationwide fell 3%, it rose 5% in Silicon Valley.1 month ago San Francisco Chronicle
Firmageddon, as the researchers define it, appears to be limited to so-called “true fir” trees; trees in the genus Abies. Die-offs were recorded for grand fir, white fir, red fir, noble fir and the hybrid Shasta red fir. The fir tree’s only defense against this attack in its cambium layer is to flush the insects out with pitch. As a consequence, says Flowers, a large enough fir engraver infestation can effectively “girdle” an already water-stressed fir tree. Increased risk of wildfireUnsurprisingly, having more than half the fir trees dead in some of these forests poses a major fire risk.1 month ago Oregon Capital Chronicle