Plan to Revap S.F. transit, remove stretch of I-280 debuts
Source: San Francisco Business Times
By: Riley McDermid
Date Posted: February 23, 2016
The first part of a study that looks at razing a 1.2-mile stretch of Interstate 280 in San Francisco in order to revamp infrastructure ahead of the city’s Transbay Transit Center and high-speed Caltrain arrivals will debut Tuesday.
It will be the first look the public will get at the “Rail Yard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility Study” (RAB), which will be unveiled tonight at the Potrero Hill Recreation Center. A multiagency effort, the plan hopes to modify the Fourth and King rail yard and weave SoMa into the Dogpatch, Mission Bay and Potrero Hill, while freeing up 25 acres for possible development.
“The study will review construction methods and rail alignments, including the possibility of moving the Caltrain station at Fourth and Townsend streets to Third Street, between AT&T Park and the planned Warriors arena,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
“It will also look at the potential of creating a loop track at the Transbay Transit Center, rather than a stub, where trains have to end and exit on the same track. A loop track would increase the station’s overall capacity.”
But the plan already has some officials questioning parts of its reach, including how rail travel would be incorporated into the city.
The feasibility of creating a tunnel under 16th Street so that trains could travel on top of 16th Street and Mission Bay Drive is also worrisome to Gillian Gillett, director of transportation policy for the city, who told the paper it might make a dangerous zone for cyclists and pedestrians.
“Those two streets will be depressed at great expense, resulting in an urban form that is invasive and hostile,” Gillett said. “We don’t want our streets to get trenched. We did that to Cesar Chavez Street, and it doesn’t create a good environment.”
Even more worrisome? Where the funding would come from, given the increasing costs of the Transbay Transit Center itself, which has been mired in funding shortages and delays. The project has already has taken on a loan from Goldman Sachs that will cost taxpayers $37 million in charges and fees.
That amount is part of a $171 million “bridge” loan that Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) is lending the city so that it can continue building the project without a pause due to financial issues.
In December, the Chronicle reported that the price for the first phase of the Transbay Transit Center may jump another $244 million to almost $2.3 billion, and has now added another $4 billion for a related train track project that will run from the three-block building to Fourth and King streets.
Those sorts of operational challenges are why the city needs to get any overarching plan that includes removing a portion of I-280 right the first time, said officials.
“One of the reasons we are in the soup we are in is that development and transportation improvements have not been happening at the same time,” Gillett told the paper. “If you are going to invest in this big seismic shift from diesel to electric, which we have got to do, you also have to look at all the stations. Are the tracks in the right place? Are the stations in the right place so that we can create real connections to other systems?”
link to article: Transit Revamp