Joint Powers Authority may be excluded from SF Transit Center's next construction phase

- Following the recent troubles surrounding the Transbay Transit Center San Francisco city leaders have taken the first step to exclude the Transbay Joint Powers Authority from overseeing the next phase of construction.

One by one San Francisco's Board Of Supervisors, in their roles as members of the County Transportation Authority-- voted to suspend $9.7 million in funding for the Transbay Transit Center.

The funding would have gone to pay for new rail lines, connecting the transit center to Caltrain and eventually with high speed rail. But, chairman Aaron Peskin said considering all the recent problems facing the transit center, something had to be done. "It means that the TJPA is going to have to get out of the way," said Peskin.

City leaders also called for a review of the for the TJPA management and delivery of phase one of the project.

Executive director Mark Zabaneh says he welcomes additional oversight, but worries suspending funding will slow the project down at least by three months and lead to added costs.  "It's critical that we keep on moving forward with the development of the project while we're discussing other concerns of the board of supervisors," said Zabaneh.

City leaders, who've already committed tens of millions to the project, expressed frustration, saying it appeared TJPA leadership wasn't prepared to discuss the financial details at the authority meeting, such as when bonds are supposed to be sold.

"Well, the question was about the breakdown of the operation costs and I unfortunately didn't have it with me. The item on the agenda was a different matter I was not prepared, I did apologize to her for that," said Zabaneh.

"I mean candidly I think it's bulls***. I think it's a bulls*** answer. When you are a leader, we are leaders here in the city and county of San Francisco and we are prepared to answer on any and all topics," said Malia Cohen.

City leaders say the string of errors has shaken their confidence in the TJPA.

City leaders are convinced another agency will have to step in and take over the next phase of the project. "What we're really talking about is not dissolution, but the creation of an agency to deliver the downtown extension from 4th and King Streets to that terminal," said Peskin.

Important to note that this is money for the next phase of construction specifically to connect rail lines to the transit center. Suspending the funding will not impact the repairs already underway for the cracked girders discovered here last month.

At this point, results of tests on the steel to determine the problem are about three weeks out. A final fix is still expected by the end of the year.
 

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