CA Transportation Commission Unanimously Approves Commitment of $61.3 Million in State HSR Connectivity Funds to Central Subway Project

June 28, 2012
Voter-approved bond funds to be invested in Muni Metro T Third Line extension.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees transportation in the city, announced that the California Transportation Commission unanimously approved a commitment of $61.3 million in state high-speed rail connectivity funds to the Central Subway Project, reaffirming the Central Subway’s key role in enhancing California’s regional transportation network.

“We thank our state funding partners for their consistent and strong support as we work to improve San Francisco’s public transportation system and enhance our regional transit network,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “By providing a convenient transfer to California’s high-speed rail service, the Central Subway will be a key component in improving mobility, reducing emissions and better connecting our city.”

The Central Subway, which will extend the Muni Metro T Third Line from the Caltrain station at 4th and King streets through SoMa, Union Square and Chinatown, will offer direct and proximate access to the proposed blended high-speed rail system at 4th and King streets. The Central Subway ties directly into the future high-speed rail service at 4th and King station, and it will also be just three blocks from the Transbay Transit Center, the planned terminus for high-speed rail. When the Central Subway is completed, it will provide significant light rail connectivity for high-speed rail and Transbay Transit Center patrons, enabling travel throughout San Francisco.
“The Central Subway will not only improve transportation within San Francisco, but it will also enhance connections to the regional and statewide transit network,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin. “Today’s decision is a testament to the merit of this project and its importance in improving local, regional and statewide transit options. We thank our partners in Sacramento for supporting this vital investment.”

The connectivity funding comes from the state High Speed Rail Train Bond Program, approved by voters as Proposition 1A in 2008. The program will invest $950 million in capital improvements to rail lines around the state. Eligible rail projects must provide direct connectivity to the planned high-speed train system and its facilities, be part of the construction of the high-speed train system or provide capacity enhancements and safety improvements.

The $61.3 million in Proposition 1A state bond funds is part of a funding plan that includes $942 million in federal New Starts funds for the Central Subway project.

Construction Update: Launch Box Construction Proceeding in SoMa

Work on the Central Subway tunnel is progressing in SoMa, with construction of a major excavation known as a launch box underway on 4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets. At nearly 500 feet long, 50 feet wide and up to 40 feet deep, the launch box will take up most of the block.

Currently, cranes and specialized excavators, including a 10-foot-tall, 15-ton, claw-like hydraulic excavator known as a "grab," are being used to dig a series of deep, narrow holes around the perimeter of the launch box. The holes are stabilized using a mud-like slurry and then backfilled with concrete to form panels. The panels will make up the walls of the tunnel launch box.

Next year two tunnel boring machines will start digging the Central Subway tunnels from the launch box, traveling north under 4th Street and then Stockton Street. The launch box will eventually become the portal where T Third Line trains will enter and exit the Central Subway tunnel.