New project manager to help determine when Central Subway project in San Francisco will be finished

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 is committed to helping Build a Better Bay Area. And sometimes that can be taken literally. On Thursday, we got a look inside the Central Subway project in San Francisco

The subway will link Chinatown with the South of Market area, but it's already over budget and behind schedule. The project was approved in 2003 and work began in 2010. It was supposed to be completed in 2018 and is now expected to open until sometime in 2020.

Busy Stockton Street runs you right past some of Union Square's high-end shopping and hotel. Standing at the corner of Stockton and Geary, you can see just how busy it is. But there's also something you can't see... yet.

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"People don't realize that underneath Stockton Street there are hundreds of people working every day to build a new subway that will connect South of Market to Union Square and Chinatown," said Tom Maguire, acting director of San Francisco's Metropolitan Transportation Agency.

On Thursday, we got a tour of some of that underground work. From the ceiling to the tracks 100 feet below street level, crews are working hard to get the station open. But the entire project has been plagued by delays. Originally scheduled to begin operations in December of 2018, the date was pushed back to December of this year, then to early next year.

RELATED: Opening of San Francisco subway station delayed after contractor laid down wrong track

"We know we've got many months of construction ahead of us," Maguire said. "We also have man months of testing."

After 18 months with an acting project manager, MTA has hired a dedicated one and his first job will be to determine exactly when the job will be finished and exactly how much it will cost. His name Nameed Tahir.

"My first priority, besides everything else is to look and see how much time it will take to finish the job and start running the trains," Tahir said.

RELATED: Chinatown merchants say Central Subway construction leading to business bust

Most of the delays have involved the Chinatown portion of the line, where MTA is trying the complex task of building a station and laying underground tracks while trying not to disturb the businesses above. The $1.6 billion project will stretch 1.7 miles and the new project manager has six weeks to come up with new estimates on cost and completion.

"Nadeem's job is to get this job done! " Maguire exclaimed.

That's when we'll find out if there will be even more delays.

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