The idea for the $1 billion underground project surfaced after the Loma Prieta earthquake. $72 million in federal money has been contributed to the project, some of that in stimulus funds which allowed the project to get underway.
The subway will be part of the T-3rd Street line. It will start with an above-ground station at Fourth and King Streets, next to the Caltrain station, and then it will go on underground to 4th and Hamilton with stops at Moscone Center and Union Square, before ending up in Chinatown.
Merchants in Chinatown have long-complained that the loss of the Embarcadero Freeway in the '89 Loma Prieta quake have made it tough for them to get tourism dollars because Chinatown was difficult to get to.
Muni officials say this project will help make up for that.
"The project, mini-project dispensed by the billion dollars in transportation infrastructure development projects, will bring about 30,000 to 40,000 employment opportunities" said Bajah Norris with Muni. "So, we think that it'll spark the economy here and create a lot of local jobs, and put a lot of people to work."
The project is scheduled for completion in 2018 and the total cost will be about $1.5 billion. The federal government will pick up $1 billion of that.