S.F. subway project reaches milestone

February 18, 2008 8:29:28 PM PST
San Francisco's Central Subway project has reached an important milestone.

The exhaustive environmental impact reports and community hearings are done ? and on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Board will take a key vote.

The recommended route from China Basin near AT&T Park, to Chinatown, will have stops at Moscone Center and Union Square.

Right now the T-Third Rail Line runs from San Francisco's southern border in Visitacion Valley to Fourth and King Streets, near the AT&T Ballpark.

It's less than two miles from there to Chinatown, but the project to build a rail line across those two miles will take years, and more than a billion dollars to complete.

On Tuesday, the Municipal Transportation Agency Board will vote on an alignment for the Central Subway.

It's one of four original proposals, now whittled down to one recommended plan after environmental impact reports and hours of public hearings.

Dubbed the "locally preferred alignment," it would use the existing above-ground platforms at Fourth and King. There would be another above-ground stop at Fourth and Brannan. It would dive underground at the I-80 overpass, with stops at Moscone Center and Union Square.

The subway would end in Chinatown -- probably at Stockton between Washington and Jackson.

"We all support this idea," said Pius Lee from the Chinatown Neighborhood Association.

Pius Lee is co-chair of the Chinatown Neighborhood Association. If there's any opposition here, it has yet to make itself known.

Last year, Chinatown merchants and community groups sent 18,000 petitions to Washington in hopes of securing federal dollars down the line.

"This is a long-term investment," said Lee.

So long term that Chinatown is not the end of the line, the last phase of the project would extend the line to North Beach.

"They're talking about Washington Square and that's sacred ground around here you know," said Marsha Garland from the North Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Marsha Garland is executive director of the North Beach Chamber of Commerce.

"What we're hearing from officials and government officials is that this is 20 years off, but at one of our board meetings a company came out to pitch us with the idea because they're already bidding for the contract," said Garland.

The year 2015 is the target completion date for the line between Fourth and King and Chinatown.