SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is now testing Muni trains on the new Central Subway system. This project started in 2010 but was met with a number of delays and cost overruns.
The SFMTA has achieved what's called substantial completion. Since June they've been running test trains and checking all the systems for the new subway extension.
That testing expected to take at least another six months. Above ground, the construction site for the new project doesn't reveal much. But underground, crews have been hard at work, digging a trench in Stockton Street, a station beneath Union Square, and the deepest dig in the city: 12-stories underground for the station in Chinatown.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed toured the new stations and rail line and said the new Central Subway will connect the city as never before even if the project has met with delays. "The stations are amazing, the elevators the technology," said Mayor Breed. "Everything came together, and yes, it has been very challenging and many folks have lost patience with this. But, you know what, when you get on those trains it was well worth the wait to do it right."
The Central Subway is now about 98% completed, crews making major progress since the last time we were able to see inside the dig in July 2019.
The new stations and rail lines are among the deepest digs in the San Francisco and the SFMTA says that led to unexpected problems. Those problems led to unexpected delays and cost overruns.
"We did not know the kind of soil that we were going to run into down here," said SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin. "We did not know that we would hit an underground river that we would have to contend with. So we knew some things, but we didn't know everything and that has resulted in about a 15% cost overrun."
The $1.6 billion project will eventually connect the city's southeast quadrant to Chinatown and Union Square via the T Third Line light rail and the SFMTA says it will be an important piece of the city's transit system.
"What this allow us to do is to deliver a lot more transit service and a lot faster and more reliable transit service by putting it underground rather than having to contend with the surface of Stockton Street and the heart of Chinatown," said Tumlin.
So far the SFMTA says project could be completed and ready for passengers by late spring early summer of next year.