San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)

CA: Board of Supervisors Vote to Approve Key Component of Plan to Relocate Central Subway’s TBM Retrieval Site

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass a key component of the plan to relocate the retrieval site for the Central Subway’s tunnel boring machines (TBMs) to the Pagoda Palace.

The Board’s vote authorizes a special use district that will allow the owner to move forward with a previously approved development project after the building is demolished and the TBMs are extracted.

“This final vote brings us even closer to moving Central Subway construction in North Beach from Columbus Avenue to a much less disruptive site,” said board of supervisors President David Chiu. “This is good news for North Beach, and I appreciate the countless hours of work by the SFMTA, the city attorney’s office, the property owner and others to make this happen.”

To relocate the retrieval site, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) signed a lease with the owner of the Pagoda Palace property that will allow for extraction of the TBMs. The two-year lease, capped at $3.15 million, including $800,000 in rent and up to $2.35 million in ancillary fees, allows the SFMTA to demolish the existing structure and utilize the property to retrieve the TBMs.

“This process, from lease agreement to board approval, demonstrates the city’s commitment to investing in transportation options that support San Francisco’s neighborhoods,” said SFMTA director of transportation Edward D. Reiskin. “Extracting the TBMs in this location reduces construction impacts in North Beach while considering the city’s current needs and keeping options open for the future.”

The Pagoda Palace is the preferred location to remove the TBMs. As a result of community objections to the original plan, which involved removing the TBMs on Columbus Avenue, the SFMTA initiated a review of alternatives. Removing the TBMs at the Pagoda Palace, a building that has been vacant for nearly 20 years, minimizes local construction impacts and leaves no physical impediments to a potential extension of the T Third Line to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf.

The efforts to alter the TBM retrieval site involved a significant amount of work on a very tight timeline. In December, the SFMTA Board directed staff to pursue the retrieval site change. Several city agencies, including the mayor’s office, the SFMTA, the planning department, the city attorney’s office and the department of building inspection, worked together to finalize the lease terms, perform an environmental review and prepare the required engineering and design changes.

Board President Chiu, who represents District 3, provided crucial leadership in ensuring that voices in the community were heard and a resolution was found.

The retrieval site change will also require National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) clearance by the Federal Transit Administration. If all of the necessary legislative processes and approvals occur by early April then the demolition of the Pagoda Palace site can

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