City mulls moving Caltrain station, tearing down part of I-280 for development

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- City leaders in San Francisco are looking at possibly moving an entire Caltrain station and tearing down a portion of Interstate 280 for the sake of new Mission Bay development that would cost billions of dollars.

The change could reshape the landscape of a significant portion of the City, but Caltrain is saying not so fast.

The Caltrain station at 4th and King Streets sits just a few blocks away from AT&T Park and has the highest level of ridership of all Caltrain stations. It's a prized piece of property that the city now hopes to convince Caltrain to give up.

Mayor Ed Lee is talking up what's likely to be multi-billion dollar proposal to move the entire railyard and station several blocks away to a location between the ballpark and the proposed Warriors arena in the Mission Bay neighborhood.

Lee says the land at the station's current location simply could be put to better use.

"That seems to be a tremendous underutilization to have a train depot in the middle of all this development," Lee told KTVU Monday.

Instead, Lee hopes to sell the parcel to developers and use the proceeds to help fund the undergrounding of electric Caltrains into the new Transbay Terminal. The plan is part of a larger discussion about neighborhood development that includes tearing down Interstate 280 at Mission Bay for more development.

The city has had practice at that in the past with the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway and Central Freeway along at Octavia Street after the Loma Prieta earthquake.

"These were all controversial at the time," said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. "People had concerns about traffic, and in the end, I don't think anyone would want to go back."

A formal proposal is expected in about a month. But Caltrain said Monday previous discussions with the city about the 4th Street station have centered around building retail and housing above the facility rather than removing it entirely.

The agency is concerned about what such a shift would mean for rider service, employees and operational costs, along with exactly where the city would offer up as a new home for its railyard and its cars.

"That is one of the issues that critically needs to be addressed, and in a more comprehensive way than has been done just yet," said Caltrain Communications Manager Jayme Ackemann.