SF's Transbay Terminal gets $3.4 billion to connect trains

The Transbay Terminal's final major project, called ‘The Portal’, which is the above and underground rail connection to allow for Caltrain and high-speed rail, can soon begin.  

The federal government officially committed billions to make sure that a new generation of electric trains will be able to call the terminal their Northern California home.  

It's already been almost 14 years since the Transbay Terminal construction began. In about another decade's time, it will open, whole and complete, with trains.  

The Transbay Joint Power Authority, the public agency responsible for building, operating and maintaining the quarter-mile long Transbay Transit Center complex has received a $3.4 billion funding commitment from the Federal Transit Administration. That is an enormous sum for a more enormous job. 

This money will build the connecting portal above and below ground portal, that will allow trains and buses to pick up and drop off passengers to connect as never before. Congresswoman and Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the project is essentially shovel-ready. "We say, when we want to allocate money, we want to see dirt fly," said Pelosi.

The train will come into the terminal at an angle and then, it will make a slight right turn going four blocks underground until it reaches its final stop where it loads and unloads passengers.

Though the terminal was designed for a pre-Covid world, the many flexibilities built and contained within the terminal will allow the world-class tourist and business city to adapt no matter how it evolves post-Covid. 

"Downtown cannot be a nine to five. It has to be offices, housing and places for people to enjoy because it is a real neighborhood with a park right above our head that we can enjoy on any given day," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.  "We weren't so worried about Covid then. Now it  has taken it's toll. But, it's given us more impetus and provided an opportunity that people understand,".said Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

The best current estimates are that The Portal, the lower than street levels waiting and boarding levels, should be in use by 2034 serving a very different San Francisco. There are still financial hurdles, but with two-thirds of the terminal completed, there's time to come up with the last third as work goes on.

High-speed rail will take until in 2044. "Let's get ready and let's make dirt fly," said TJPA chairman Jeff Gee.