High-speed rail to downtown S.F. is back on track — but the price tag keeps going up

2 months ago San Francisco Chronicle

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.

The Salesforce Transit Center was designed to be a hub of transit in San Francisco.

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.

Drought Map

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.

Designer engineer Skip Sowko shows the train box, a cavernous basement of the Salesforce Transit Center, where trains will one day pull. Seen in 2018.

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

Continue reading...

Read On "San Francisco Chronicle"

More News On "San Francisco Chronicle"
28 days ago - Alameda County landlords owed thousands in rent, call for an end to eviction moratorium 28 days ago - Monday Feb. 27 COVID-19 update: 4 deaths in Douglas County 28 days ago - State basketball preview: 6A, 5A tournaments return to Weber State’s Dee Events Center this week 28 days ago - One Wealth Advisors LLC invests in Enovix Co. (NASDAQ:ENVX) 28 days ago - Uncommon length makes Pleasant Valley’s 2-3 a no-scoring zone 28 days ago - Study: Back-to-back hurricanes likely to come more often 28 days ago - What’s Happening Vegas? – March 2023 28 days ago - Osceola County community events calendar for 03/01/2023 28 days ago - North Adams, East Clinton, Unioto still alive 28 days ago - North Korea holds rare meeting on farming amid food shortage 28 days ago - 'Dilbert,' Scott Adams lose distributor over racist remarks 28 days ago - Soap or phone call? Colo. lawmakers want to make prison phone calls free 28 days ago - EXPLAINER: Windstorm was likely a derecho. What is that? 28 days ago - What's Happening in Las Vegas for this Year's March Madness 28 days ago - Outsmarting humans just one step for AI video game players 28 days ago - 'Cocaine Bear' gets high with $23.1M, 'Ant-Man' sinks fast 28 days ago - 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' dominates at SAG Awards 28 days ago - Digital Transformation: The Revolutionary Impact of Technology in Africa 28 days ago - ShotSpotter (NASDAQ:SSTI) Price Target Increased to $44.00 by Analysts at Lake Street Capital 28 days ago - Season 3 of Outer Banks disappoints critics; watch only if you were a die-hard fan of earlier seasons, they suggest 29 days ago - Board Game and Card Game Market Size in 2023 with [ STATISTICS FIGURES] Future Development Status and Forecast up to 2029 29 days ago - Tabletop Gaming Market Size in 2023 NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT and Latest Innovation in Analytics Sector till 2029 29 days ago - Celona Offers Most Comprehensive Private 5G Solutions for U.S. and Foreign Markets 29 days ago - ShotSpotter, Inc. (NASDAQ:SSTI) to Post Q1 2023 Earnings of ($0.03) Per Share, Northland Capmk Forecasts 29 days ago - Asian shares track Wall Street decline on hot economic data 29 days ago - Final Nebraska high school swimming and diving season leaders 29 days ago - Girls BB: Saluting Section Champions 29 days ago - Tens of thousands protest Mexico electoral reforms 29 days ago - Third finals appearance the charm for Hortonville's Skebba; Stoffel makes history for Appleton North 29 days ago - Medical Blades Market Business Opportunities, Top Players and Forecast 2030 29 days ago - Central College Dutch Sports Update – 2/26/2023 29 days ago - Buhro takes individual crown as Oak Harbor earns sectional championship 1 month ago - Nebraska conservatives set sights on education takeover – Associated Press 1 month ago - Back-to-back: Minico successfully defends 4A state wrestling championship 1 month ago - Here are Saturday's high school sports results 1 month ago - Farewell, Fontana: NASCAR's last weekend at a racing gem 1 month ago - Kansas Democrats pick Repass as their new chair despite campaign baggage 1 month ago - Tesla’s Global Engineering HQ in Palo Alto — Opening Party Highlights (Pics, Videos, Quotes) 1 month ago - San Ann'as Pizza and Mexican celebrating 45th anniversary 1 month ago - L.A. on the Record: The Senate takes one more look at Garcetti 1 month ago - Dodge County real estate transfers 1 month ago - How UNL instructors are tackling the emergence of ChatGPT and other AI in higher education 1 month ago - Some Democratic-led states seek to bolster voter protections 1 month ago - Casey Vaughan: Only rain should go down a storm drain 1 month ago - Nebraska conservatives set sights on education takeover 1 month ago - West Michigan Conference basketball: Girls and boys roundup from Feb. 24, 2023 – CatchMark Sports 1 month ago - Jeff Yost: Look Upstream 1 month ago - Brokers Set Expectations for ShotSpotter, Inc.'s Q4 2023 Earnings (NASDAQ:SSTI) 1 month ago - Building affordable homes in Fremont 1 month ago - Local chef to open farm-to-table eatery in Fremont 1 month ago - Jeanna Wilcoxen Murder: Where Is Jeremiah Connelly Now? 1 month ago - More than 70 soldiers killed in Burkina Faso, extremists say 1 month ago - Clyde Council to consider citizens raising chickens in town 1 month ago - Wilhelm: More on Jacksons, Willow Hill and efforts to share insight into African American history 1 month ago - STATE HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING TOURNAMENTS: Crowded at the top ... Trojans third, but well within striking distance in 5A tournament 1 month ago - Bulldog wrestlers have solid day at state 1 month ago - High school boys basketball: 6A/5A second round recap 1 month ago - Head-To-Head Analysis: Amprius Technologies (NYSE:AMPX) & Novanta (NASDAQ:NOVT) 1 month ago - Here are Friday's high school sports results 1 month ago - It’s Official: California Will Be Tesla’s Engineering & AI Headquarters
free geoip