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San Francisco freezes funding for Salesforce Transit Center

San Francisco is suspending $9.7 million in funding that would help support the second phase of the Salesforce Transit Center that includes funding 30 percent of the design of the Caltrain downtown extension.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority, made up of the Board of Supervisors, unanimously approved to suspend funding from the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which oversaw the construction of the transit center and manages the transit center.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who chairs the transportation authority, said he wants to make sure the second phase of the transit center is done right after delays and cost overruns plagued the first phase, and the discovery of two cracked steel beams less than two months of opening the transit center:

“I think we need to learn from our past practices and really have a strong vision going forward for what it is actually a much more complicated, much more costly project and that is bringing Caltrain and eventually high-speed rail into that box that is eight below the surface.”

Peskin added:

“I want to make sure we get phase two right and I think that conversation begins with an analysis of what the appropriate governance and oversight structure ought to be for phase two.”

Before the transportation authority releases the full or partial funding, they are requesting the Controller’s Office to evaluate the management of the TJPA and delivery of the transit center and requesting transportation authority staff to seek alternative governance and oversight models over the $4 billion Caltrain Downtown Extension portion of the project.

Mark Zanbanh, executive director of the TJPA, said he does support a controller’s report of evaluating how the TJPA performed during the first phase of the project and welcomes efforts to look at different oversight models for the second phase of the project:

“We welcome any effort to strengthen the TJPA organization.”

Zabaneh, though, said it was critical for the TJPA to continue and follow its schedule for the second phase of the project.

Meanwhile, crews are working on a permanent fix to the transit center, said Dennis Turchon, senior construction manager.

Crews can now begin the process of taking a sampling of the two steel cracked beams now that the weight is completely off the beams and onto a shoring system.

Turchon said the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which has been part of the peer review process for about a week and half, is involved in the testing and sampling protocols.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf asked the MTC to take part in the peer review process of the permanent fix for the transit center.

Two independent firms — one to take the sample and one to test the sample — are at the transit center awaiting for a green light from the MTC peer review group, said Turchon.

Zabaneh said it will take five to seven days to take the samples and up two weeks to test the samples.

Officials expect to know the exact cause of the cracked beams by mid-November.

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