Groundbreaking at Transbay Transit Center in SF


High speed rail is closer to becoming a reality with the construction underway. It's the first phase of a $1 billion transit hub.

The traditional official ground breaking took place on Wednesday. It's the site of what will be the first new high speed rail station in the United States... and that's just the start.

"You're talking about a makeover," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

That makeover will happen in the space of five blocks and in the concept of transportation.

"Why don't we have high-speed rail in America? Because we never made the investment, that's why," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

San Francisco has had a plan for high speed rail for years and now Congress and the administration has come up with the money -- $400 million to start.

"We have the money for the project and we have people. I can't tell you how many people were in the hiring halls, the building trades without work. This is going to put a lot of people to work," said Transbay project executive director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan.

"This Transbay Transit Center project is quite simply a bullet train for job creation," said Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

There will be 48,000 jobs created for the first seven years. Webcor Builders is building the new terminal.

"It will definitely immediately put to work a lot of the construction trades. That's what we have been saying in Washington for the last two years. This has been a project 30 years in the making. It has been an absolute fight the last two years," said Webcor president Andy Ball.

It is about more than tearing down an old building and putting up a new terminal. This is about the transformation of the South of Market neighborhood.

The plays include seven new high rises, 2,600 housing units, parks, new office space, indoor and outdoor retail space, and a new icon.

"The tallest new tower on the West Coast of the United States that will anchor this new neighborhood with real focus on street level vibrancy," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Pelosi calls it "a project of national significance."

Demolition of the old terminal will be completed by March of 2011 and then they will begin the new construction in the spring. The whole project should be complete by 2017 and will house 11 different transit systems.

By the end of the construction of the high rise buildings the project will total $4 billion.

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