The Options for Redeveloping SF’s Railyard, Tracks and I-280’s EndFebruary 26, 2016
The City of San Francisco has narrowed the potential options for connecting Caltrain and High Speed Rail to the Transbay Center and potentially across to the East Bay, redeveloping the 20-acre Caltrain Depot at 4th and King Streets, and tearing down the northern terminus of I-280 in San Francisco.
The surviving options include the possibility of re-routing Caltrain up Third Street north of 23rd, with a new underground station near Ceasar Chavez and another adjacent to the Giants’ Mission Rock project, a few blocks from the proposed Warriors’ Arena.
Prior to the Third Street twist, the City’s Planning Department was expected to deliver a meaningful list of alternatives for the San Francisco Railyard and I-280 redevelopment project by the middle of 2016, with a best-case scenario of implementation sometime after 2020 “as money and priorities allow.”
But with the second phase of Planning’s Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard (RAB) Study, which will explore the potential options and develop up to three refined plans for moving forward, now ready to roll and slated to take at least nine months and up to a year, the meaningful list of alternatives won’t be ready until mid-2017.
And assuming the alternatives are deemed feasible, follow-on phases will then include the selection of a Preferred Alternative (a 12-18 month project) and the securing of Environmental Clearances (for which another 18 months to 5 years have tentatively been budgeted).
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
Well I like the Third Street route. Seems simplest and cheapest, fewer sharp curves to slow down the HSR, plus anything to improve transit on Third Street is definitely a good thing.
Indeed. Routing on 3rd means that the current SF terminal will be toast which is fine because its proximity to the transbay makes it redundant. Previously I thought that the city needed both stations simply to handle the traffic volume (transbay doesn’t have many platforms). But that loopback track will address the traffic bottleneck.
The fewest curves would be the Pennsylvania Ave tunnel, *continued* in a straight line virtually to the southwestern end of the TTC. These armchair track drawings – and their hand-waving of what to do with the railyard staging – are ridiculous.
The Third St. alignment pretty clearly eliminates two narrow-radius curves 90 degree curves.
Yeah, I had not heard of that before, but it makes a ton of sense.
and then bring in the Warriors? Really?
What about double game days?
You want to scrap the plan based on a two week period in April, maybe more if they host playoff games, so you don’t have to worry about traffic?
@ Elitist Pig: YES.
Anyone who does not live in Mission Bay could not possible understand. As it is, as much as we love the Giants, home games are an effin’ traffic nightmare in the whole downtown area, let alone Mission Bay. The Warriors’ arrival would mean YEAR-ROUND traffic. Until they have a viable traffic solution, that answer is YES, YES, YES.
Your neighborhood might not exist without that stadium.
Of course it would exist with or without the stadium. Most likely the neighborhood would be even more valuable had China Basin been developed as one of the alternatives considered at the time.
Two years before PacBellPark opened the master plan for MB was approved with UCSF as the anchor tenant committed to spending $3 billion to build a new campus on 43 acres donated to them. And the dotcom was in mid-boom. Residential and office rents had already doubled, vacancy rates were plunging, and the livework loft boom was underway all around the edges of MB, including in dogpatch. All of this was two years before PacBellPark opened.
An enduring testament to the showmanship and marketing prowess of the Giants is the willingness of so many people to believe their $300 million ballpark triggered the development of MB instead of the $3 billion UCSF had committed before PacBellPark even existed. The absurdity of it is astounding.
I think it would exist, but the purpose of siting the stadium “downtown” was to eliminate fans driving to games. Once the Mission Bay land across China Basin is developed and the large parking lots are eliminated, fewer people may drive, but I think the traffic nightmare would also exist without the stadium. Best solution, don’t drive.
The Giants never claimed the location would “eliminate fans driving to games.” Roughly half of all attendees drive to SF Giants home games. It accounts for ~8k cars/game average. About half park in the Giants lots and most of the rest spreadout for ~0.5mile through SoMa. That was a major reason for starting SFPark in the area.
The Giants plan to replace the parking lots with garages for thousands of cars. The Warriors count those parking garages in their plans as well.
ATT Park makes the traffic problems much much worse. I’ve explained how this works before on SS. The main impact is on the tens of thousands of cars that commute between north of Market and San Mateo via 280 & 3rd or Embarcadero. Both SM residents that work in SF and SF residents that work in SM.
Even if all Giants fans took transit and/or walked they would still choke the primary gridlock intersection where the north and south bound flows cross at 3rd and King. From this intersection both north and south bound traffic backs up a mile or more: southbound along the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building or beyond and northbound along King back up 280 to the edge of Potrero Hill and as far as 101.
Essentially, the Giants and their fans delay tens of thousands of other people ~50 weekday games per year, for which the Giants pay nothing, externalizing transportation costs. And their proposed project in MB will make it worse, not better.
Best solution, know what you are talking about.
Potter has been around since before the Giants
“fewer sharp curves to slow down the HSR”
Won’t matter. HSR will either die due to lack or Federal funding or dead-end in San Jose. Think Atherton+Menlo Park+Palo Alto money. Unless HSR finally realizes that the only way it will get support in the peninsula by going underground, it won’t happen.
It doesn’t matter from a technical POV either: actual HS operation requires curves with a radius of several thousand feet..anything operating on the curves shown here would be operating at a crawl.
Great point. Technically coming up the East Bay to Oakland makes far more sense. No curves.
Why some still hang onto this SJ-SF HSR idea makes no sense.
But for boosterism. SF has to have the HSR terminus, has to have the Warriors, has to have the Niners – opps that did not happen – and the world did not collapse.
SF is the main center of business and culture in the SF bay area, genius. That’s why it makes sense to have HSR to SF. And HSR will never be built through the east bay at this point.
As usual you have a head full of delusions.
No, San Jose/Santa Clara is by far the jobs/business center of the Bay Area.
It makes sense to have HSR in SF because SF is the cultural center of the BA? I give you SF is the cultural center but that is hardly the reason/a reason to mis-direct HSR up the Peninsula.
Keep dreaming – it won’t happen.
That’s incorrect. All of Santa Clara county does have more jobs than SF, but the “center” of Bay Area jobs is clearly north of there. It’s probably somewhere in the middle of the Bay between SF and Oakland.
Dave@ You silly goose. HSR works because of LA in the South and SF in the North. To get the passenger counts, the trains need to stop in these cities. The HSR will run on the existing Caltrain tracks. Oakland is out of the running along with you one hundred story building in Oakland.
Because there are a lot of people and a lot of businesses on the Peninsula – business which are much more likely to generate business trips to L.A. than the industrial uses on the east side of the bay.
I agree with your point of running HSR from SJ through the East Bay to OAK. It avoids the whole peninsula mess. But, it’s only viable if it continues under the Bay to an SF terminus. There’s no reason (other than money and politics) why HSR can’t connect the three major cities in the region.
Why must everything be a contest?!!?
It should come up the East Bay as well as on the Caltrain right-of-way. The peninsula Caltrain line could be linked to outlying towns in the East Bay, like Concord and Pittsburgh, allowing a commute center from the East Bay to the South Bay as well as down town SF.
“…allowing a commute center from the East Bay to the South Bay as well as down town SF…”
You are describing BART.
Yes – the curves shown here for any Soma alternative are almost as sharp as the existing King Street rail yard cure – you know, where Caltrain slows to about 10 mph … These are all pie-in-the-sky arm-waving by consultants without any real-world clue.
“anything operating on the curves shown here would be operating at a crawl”
That is true, but are you aware that it is several hundred miles to Los Angeles, and for that portion of the trip the train will be going much faster?
Yes, of course, I’m aware of that; the comment was meant solely to point out that none of the scenarios shown here would permit HS operation in this area (I don’t think many people grasp just what standards are required for HS track).
But now that you brought it up, terminal operating speeds shouldn’t be ignored: even a few miles of low speed operation will chew up as many minutes as 50-100 miles of HS operation does, as will every station added between terminals.
There have been talks to include HSR/Electrified Caltrain service from SF into the East Bay through the new BART tube so could be a win for all sides.
Find me a HSR line anywhere on the planet that doesn’t slow down as it enters the station.
But you are correct that every stop will slow down the LA-SF trip. I hope they are smart enough to plan for some express trains.
taking down 280 is a ridiculous idea. its already jam packed, and pushing all those cars through surfact streets will make traffic worse, and be more dangerous for cyclists and pedestirans
Think of those crossing surface streets as escape routes from the “jam” that is the freeway.
Crazy talk. HSR will not come to SF. For budget reasons and anti-HSR sentiment on the part of well-off influential south Peninsula residents.
Why crazy talk? Look at the Transbay Center. Most expensive bus terminal in the world. Crony capitalism at its best.
As usual, you talk at cross-purposes. Ridicule TTC as an expensive “bus terminal” while arguing against taking rail there.
It’s not ridicule, it’s a fact. The TTC is a glorified, over budget bus station. We can’t even get Caltrain there because it’s not a priority (funds were diverted a couple years ago for cost “overruns” which now sets back Caltrain to TTC another decade at least), so you can forget about HSR.
No no no. Transbay tower is best as is…100% unique cuz no BART no subway no trains and only 1 or 2 buses that make it to the tower when city traffic is not happening…
SasstSFboy@ You are confusing the Salesforce Tower with the TransBay Terminal. BTW, The TransBay Terminal will be connected to an underground walkway to the Embarrcadero Bart station.
Hopefully, at least. It has been reported here that such seeming logical connection is merely an unfunded proposal.
No, it was reported here that it’s not planned until the underground portion of the terminal is completed (aka the trains). It’s not a “proposal” though, but it is unfunded until the trains come.
Correct. There is no provision for an underground passageway from the TTC to the Market St. subway.
Yes, but there’s also no underground portion of the TTC until the trains come. It would be weird to build an underground tunnel that connects to several flights of stairs and nothing more. There won’t be a TTC train station that doesn’t connect via tunnel to BART, which is what some people are implying here.
Absolutely no reason to not build the passageway with access from the bus-served upper tiers connecting to BART / MUNI Metro whether or not Caltrain / HSR ever make it into the TTC.
Who is going to descend from above ground to below ground two blocks before the station? Underground connection makes sense if you’re arriving underground – if you’re arriving above ground it makes no sense.
@anona – Granted, we don’t have the more heavily inclement weather of cities such as Boston or New York, but nevertheless there are plenty of people (including me) who might prefer to walk underground to connect to Muni (or even to get to the north side of Market) than have to deal with traffic, stoplights, and other interruptions – as well as our occasional bad weather.
The key for any underground passage will be its design, maintenance and policing – is it narrow and dank, or broad and inviting? And even if it’s broad and bright at the beginning, is it policed so as to be safe and welcoming, or does it become Powell Station Part II, where its essentially a two-block-long cesspool?
@anona: same could be said for the Central Subway connection at Union Square. Why would someone want to ascend 100 feet from the T line platform, walk down a 2 block passageway (holding one’s nose, of course) to the Powell St. mezzanine and then descend again? Have you been to Times Square? Have you navigated that station?
@SJ: Powell St. station, in particular, is a constant cesspool. I made the mistake of entering the station from the entrance between Stockton/Grant during the middle of the day. I counted two dozen homeless either sleeping or bothering people walking the passageway, and all kinds of litter and stench from bodily fluids that hadn’t been cleaned up. Not policed. Not cleaned up. Can you imagine what the passageway from Union Sq. to Powell will look like?
@Mark – agreed that the Powell station design is terrible, but moving up and down between underground levels to transfer between trains is entirely different than descending six stories from a bus to go underground two blocks prior to where the train station is.
TTC with trains is basically a new station, in spite of the bus station being six levels above. The train station should absolutely be tied together seamlessly with BART, but there’s no way to tie such disparate pieces as a bus station 40′ in the air and a train station 40′ below ground together, so I’m totally fine with the tunnel being delayed until there’s something to actually tie together.
@anona Absurd. No way to tie together? How about an escalator descending from the bus level to the passageway level taking riders to their underground destination? How can anything else even be considered!
It would be an eight story escalator, and if you don’t allow people to get out on the ground level no one would use it. An eight level escalator down to a quarter mile long tunnel that’s not connected to a heavily used train station at both ends would end up being a nightmare to keep clean, safe, etc. Wait until there’s decent traffic on both ends.
Whether or not HSR (the vehicle) comes to SF is moot because HSR traffic will still arrive in SF one way or the other. Their peninsula opposition to HSR is self defeating. If they succeed in blocking blue and yellow HSR trains, they will be just be supplanted with more red and white Caltrain runs.
The “shared track” could become a big problem for HSR. Hopefully, once it’s operating, the selfish peninsula burgs will forget about their objections and a dedicated track can be added. Meanwhile, Palo Alto and Atherton deserve your middle finger for pure blind NIMBYism.
Nice to see SF Planning consider so many options in this re-re-re-re-re-consideration of routing and tunneling to get a train a mile deeper into downtown SF. Notice their presentation conveniently avoided the costs and schedules for any of this.
It doesn’t matter what SF wants if Caltrain doesn’t agree. AFAIK, this isn’t even on their agenda. And 2/3rd of Caltrain board members are from San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Something like 3x as many residents of those counties that work in SF drive 280 into SF to get to work as take Caltrain into SF to get to work. Why would they vote to spend money they don’t have to help SF tear down a freeway that their residents use to get to work?
BTW, these alternatives do not address the traffic disaster SF Planning is brewing with all the growth in Showplace Sq and nearby in SoMa. For all the arguing about the Warriors Arena, the growth of Showplace Sq will dwarf it in traffic impacts and congestion.
Some tunneling cost can be recovered by developing the 4th Street railyard land.
“developing the 4th Street railyard land” requires paying to build a new railyard and will burden Caltrain with higher operating costs due to shunting empty trains, as they have pointed out to the mayor already. People keep pretending there is some found money here. Mostly this would demolish critical highly utilized infrastructure to create a windfall for a few developers, guarantee showplace and MB horrendous traffic, and make the already horrendous traffic on 101 PM commute even worse.
Seems it would make more sense to develop the air rights above the rail as they’re doing at Hudson Yards in west Manhattan.
Exactly – an eminently more logical idea – but one which doesn’t have the flash and sizzle of tearing down an elevated freeway, nor benefit Lee’s cronies.
Developing above the rail yard and removing the 6th and King Streets stub spurs are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Hyperloop or bust.
Ha! Don’t forget self driving cars at every
basketstation waiting to whisk each cylinder’s arrival away to utopia. Fire up the pavement spreaders!
I just did a quick search on the downtown rail extension (DTX) to the terminal. The current information says it will be constructed using a combination of cut-and-cover and mined tunneling under Townsend and 2nd.
I’m assuming the mined tunneling will happen closer to the terminal, leaving the cut-and-cover option to Townsend and maybe parts of 2nd?
A complete guess on my part. Curious if others with better knowledge of these types of processes can offer a more informed explanation of where both processes will be used.
Yes, the plan is to cut-and-cover a straight segment along Townsend from 4th to 3rd. Then the route curves under existing buildings until it reaches 2nd at Brannan, where it follows 2nd to Tehama and then curves into the Transbay. They have to tunnel this ‘S’. The top of the tunnel will be 40-60 feet below the surface of 2nd.
A geotech study with map at namelink says: “The mined tunnel segment of the Transbay DTX project will be the widest SEM/NATM tunnel span ever constructed in North America.”
Thanks @Jake. Interesting PDF. To me its interesting that 3200 feet of the tunnel will be mined tunneling. That leaves a little more that 3600 feet of the tunnel that will be cut-and-cover.
I zoomed in on the diagram and it looks like the cut-and-cover begins at 3rd & Townsend and continues all the way to 7th & Channel (roughly). There also appears to be a cut-and-cover segment mid-block from Main & Folsom to mid-block Beale & Howard.
That dig should make for some interesting traffic rerouting and congestion management, especially during events at AT&T park and (presumably by then) the Warriors arena.
They seem to have made things more difficult/complicated for themselves now that the central subway is being completed with an at grade crossing at Townsend on 4th St.
Wasn’t this in part b/c the existing (and still official / current) plan for Caltrain is to tunnel under Townsend? i.e., keeping the T at street level at Townsend makes it easier for Caltrain to grade down to a tunnel under Townsend – it’d be a much steeper slope if they had to go under a subway that itself was under Townsend.
(All that, again, being with respect to the official and still current TTC plans, and not these generic pretty consultant drawings that have no engineering analysis behind them.)
@Sierrajeff, that’s an interesting point. According to the diagram, the line between the mined tunneling coming from TTC and cut-and-cover is right at 3rd. And it stops at 4th. And that’s where the underground King Street station begins, so they’ll probably tunnel under 4th for those hand full of feet to meet the cut-and-cover-section on the other side of the street.
A number of these alignments will be engineering nightmares due to the fact that they’re mostly running though filled land.
If I recall correctly the environmentally cleared DTX alignment already had the Infinity towers built such to accommodate the future underground DTX rail line. It will be interesting to see what the estimated cost is for a realignment down 3rd street. Presumably it is going to require a TBM for what is a fairly short distance along with monitoring for all of the building near the tunnel. Maybe it is cheaper just to acquire all of the buildings in the path of the rail and run Caltrain at grade.
So you are seriously saying they haven’t figured all this out BEFORE they spent billions building a new station?
I don’t understand your concern. All options are identical for the last four blocks leading to the TBT.
They did (and do) have a plan figured out. There’s an existing plan to run Caltrain and HSR to the TTC, as shown in the top image in white. All of these plans are Lee’s consultants trying to craft an alternative – one not at all vetted by Caltrain or the CHSRA – in order to put lipstick on the pig that is the proposal to tear down 280.
It’s important for HSR/Caltrain to enter the trans-bay terminal from the south west. This will allow continuation of line via a trans-bay tunnel to the East Bay, and, ideally, providing HSR along the Capital Corridor route to Sacramento and beyond.
If this rout ran frequently, and provided a strategically-cited stop in, say, Concord, (on the busiest BART line), many passengers from Concord, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Pitsburgh, and Pleasant Hill who normally take BART, would opt to take the non-stop HSR line into SF, or directly to the South Bay job centers.
There are over 30,000 combined boardings at these stations each weekday, so extending HSR could eliminate the need to add another expensive BART tunnel and trackway.
Since HSR utilizes standard-gage tracks, and rolling stock can be purchased “off the shelf,” as opposed to BART, which is completely custom and averages $1B/mile construction costs, it’s much cheaper to install. I propose BART expansion be halted after the line to San Jose is completed. We can’t afford it anymore.
BART to San Jose is a mistake and to your point San Jose would already could be served by improved inter-city rail like Caltrain with access to transbay making BART an expensive inefficient solution.
What you are saying is sensible but we have no comprehensive planning like this, just different advocates for their fiefdoms. non-stop rides outside the core are much better on conventional rail than BART. BART should focus on no more expansions and just the core
Agreed. For a city of 1 million people SJ will get three stations (4 tops) with only two being in the city’s “downtown.” Everything else will be huge commuter rail stations (miles apart from each other) surrounded by immense parking structures that support using cars to get to/from BART. The Irvington and Calaveras stations, both of which are close to or in commercial districts, have been nixed from the SV BART extension. Shows BART’s priorities.
To be fair, I think the blame lies more with VTA and Santa Clara County than BART – the stations were axed b/c there’s not enough money, and it’s the former agencies that decided what to axe, not BART. (AFAIK)
There is no need for BART to San Jose at all. Ridership is going to be terrible just like VTA which is up there as the most inefficient LRT system in the world
They don’t have the land use or the downtown to support either very well.
San Jose being a city of 1 million is irrelevant. They don’t need a subway
“…ideally, providing HSR along the Capital Corridor route to Sacramento and beyond.”
I assume you mean roughly following the Capital Corridor route as the current Capital ROW through the Carquinez is too curvy for HSR. This would mean a tunnel in the vicinity of Mt. Diablo.
tube under the bay
+ underground station in Oakland
+ tunnel through Diablo
Not saying it isn’t a valuable piece of infrastructure. But it is really spendy, especially when compared with connecting Sacto directly from the central valley wye. Direct SF->Sacto is probably at least 10X more expensive. But is it 10X more valuable?
Honestly for that distance maybe some day it can be HSR but just improved modern rail would be fine. Why can’t HSR just slow down for Carquinez?
It could but then what is the point? HSR on the existing tracks would be no faster than the existing Capitol Corridor service. Running a new tube under the bay is a high cost just to save passengers the hassle of transferring at the Richmond station.
A new tube is a high, but necessary, cost be it BART, HSR, conventional rail, whatever. It needs to be built to meet increasing transit demand and relieve pressure within the greater Bay Area system.
The goal should be to select a rail project that makes the most sense. SF shouldn’t be moving forward with plans to underground a small portion of the M line at a projected $3B price tag. That project doesn’t make sense. Okay, maybe it makes a little sense in the larger scheme of things, but it shouldn’t be a priority.
BART to San Jose shouldn’t be a priority. A new tube is a priority.
Funding of such small amounts shouldn’t be such an obstacle to doing the meaningful things necessary and wouldn’t be if we didn’t piss away $600+ Billion annually on the Pentagon.
No doubt a new tube would be valuable to ease the Bay Area’s biggest bottleneck . Its necessity for HSR however is not nearly as urgent.
@MOD: true, to a point. A new BART line could run on conventional, rather than wide-gauge, rail. If so, the tube could share both regional rail and HSR.
One of the major problems we face is that there are too many transit agencies in the Bay Area. If there was some consolidation on a regional level, like BART-Caltrain, then the infrastructure concerns might be more easily and appropriately addressed. Cities could then run their own local transit, like MUNI and VTA, that feed into the greater system.
The contra flow bus lane would be the quickest way to get more capacity across the Bay.
The proposed contraflow bus lane is only planned for the westbound AM commute. It is not planned for the eastbound PM commute. It will not increase the PM eastbound throughput or reduce the PM congestion that causes the worst traffic in SF. It may even make it slightly worse by helping to move more vehicles into SF in the AM commute.
It COULD be reversed as an HOV lane in the evening (my understanding is that this has not yet been studied). Just do it.
of course it could be done with enough money and many years to engineer and construct. The one eastbound AM only lane is projected to cost in the $50-100 million range. They almost certainly have to build new ramps on both ends of the bridge. No one has scoped out the costs or the benefits of an eastbound contraflow lane, AFAIK. So, no they can’t “just do it” and there is a good chance they never will. Best case a contraflow lane only buys another 5-10 years of capacity before we are right back where we started on traffic delays.
The really simple solution is to raise the cost of parking in SF CBD. 76% of the cars westbound during the AM commute are headed for free parking, according to a UCB study.
I guess the point is a conventional rail network not just HSR with access across the Bay. I assume the trains could also go faster in different stretches with different improvements
HSR on existing tracks (or really rights-of-way) could be faster than the Capitol Corridor for a number of reasons
Firstly, the Carquinez shoreline is inherently slow, but that doesn’t mean that the whole route is run at as fast as it can be. In the 40s and 50s, the Southern Pacific timetabled long distance express trains between Sacramento and Benicia at 95 mph, rather than today’s limit of 79 mph, and it could have been faster if not that the locomotives were geared for steep mountains. Today’s Capitol Corridor equipment could, with upgrades to signalling that would be necessary for HSR anyway, run at up to 110 along the straight sections.
Secondly, the Capitol Corridor is a diesel-operated train. HSR would imply electrification, and even replacing the F59PH locomotives that currently haul capitol corridor trains with ACS-64 electrics used out east would increase available horsepower by a factor of 2.7. Electrics have more power available and have superior acceleration to diesels..
Thirdly, the Capitol Corridor is a push-pull train, with only the locomotive axles powered. Because of limited adhesion, such trains accelerate more slowly than multiple unit trains (like, say, BART) that have most or all axles powered. HSR sets are specified to be (and most modern ones are) multiple unit trains, and as such will be able to get up to maximum speed faster around stops and speed restrictions
Fourthly, current capitol corridor sets are FRA compliant. For various reasons, this means that they are extremely heavy and tend to accelerate more slowly. HSR trains will be regulated under a (arguably bizarre) alternative regime (unless a complete outbreak of stupid overtakes the FRA again) and as such will be much lighter weight, contributing to faster acceleration and greater ability to take curves at higher speeds, since they’ll exert less forces on the track
Lastly, the track geometry can be improved to allow faster running through curves. While this does create increased track-wear from freight trains (which could go faster too), at a given level of passenger traffic this can be justified.
So ya, there’s scope to squeeze better running times out of the current route of the Capitol Corridor. Given the constraints of Transbay, enabling more runthrough opportunities for HSR and regional trains can improve the operation efficiency of the terminal while opening up new travel markets.
DTX current money where did it go? (Central Subway?)
Who benefits most from the I-280 tear-down, 100% affordable? mix-income? whats the pencil costs and profits?
Than lets look at the reasoning why we cannot finish the DTX first, than go off on a tangent.
Don’t look too close at the Trojan horse, there may be a hidden surprise down the road, like going under AT&T park or looping out into the bay.
HSR also has some concerns with speed, and need to get out of the city faster. What makes sense?
All the Third Street options show tunneling under 100’s of historic homes in Dogpatch. Kind of an expensive non-starter.
If they are serious about Third Street alignment they need to start the train tunnel at Rankin and Evans street. A little bit longer – but much much cheaper in the long run since it is all under public right-of-way and can be done cut and cover with a prefab tube for Islais creek.
Who does these planning studies? People from out of town? srsly. Does the staff ever leave the cafe at City Hall and look at the conditions in the field? Suggesting the City tunnel under 100’s of historic homes in Dogpatch when there are better/ cheaper options just off the edge of their conveniently trimmed map suggests either 1. incompetence, or 2. the desire to bias the analysis against a Third Street alignment.
Tunneling is somewhat expensive, but if done properly it should not affect the existing homes, historic or not. The existing plan for the DTX from the Caltrain station at 4th St to Transbay tunnels under buildings taller and heavier than the buildings in dogpatch, including some historic buildings. FWIW, the entire central subway tunnel cost less than either the new underground station in Union Sq or the one in Chinatown.
That said, this whole study is a non-starter until Caltrain gets onboard, and AFAIK this isn’t even on their agenda.
Hmm. Buy an easement under hundreds of homes in this hot market? Or using existing public right of way? I’m not a realtor but I’m betting the second is going to be cheaper.
Tunneling under Poterero is a mess. The old Western Pacific train tunnel collapsed there back in 1962.
That tunnel was built over 100 years ago and collapsed over 50 years ago. And of course, tunnel-building technology hasn’t advanced at all since then.
Off course tunnel-building technology has “advanced” since then. It now takes longer and costs more in SF. The Twin Peaks tunnel – built 100 years ago – is 25% longer than the Central Subway – and took less time to build.
Making dumb decisions – like tunneling under peoples houses when you don’t have to – is precisely the reason our current infrastructure projects take twice as long and cost three times as much as they used to.
The tunnel is only ~15% of the cost of the central subway. The stations make up most of the costs and set the schedule. And the central subway tunnel doesn’t pass under houses, though it did require 3 easements under commercial buildings (790 and 801 Market and 1455 Stockton) and they bought and demolished residential buildings to build the Chinatown station. Seems your specific complaints about “dumb decisions” don’t match the reality of the actual decisions for the central subway tunnel.
I suspect 100 years ago they would have had to use cut-and-cover to build the central subway tunnel. Now we can tunnel through the soft soils of SoMa and Chinatown/North Beach without ground surface subsidence with Earth Pressure Balance Machines (namelink). If you are looking for dumb decisions in urban tunneling these days, try Seattle.
Looks like the southern-most option mostly passes under warehouses and may not go under any historic houses. I wonder how much a subterranean easement under one of these warehouses would be worth. Wouldn’t it mostly reduce the potential to build underground parking?
If easements cost too much, I suppose they could use eminent domain. This being a hot market, the gov might turn a profit on them over the many years it takes to complete the project. Maybe even help pay for the tunnels themselves. I understand future President Trump looks favorably on getting others to pay for infrastructure and isn’t shy about his eminence, domain and otherwise. And his future Sec of Transportation Christie is more of a tunnel man than a bridge builder. Vote Trump, and take back America, one parcel at a time.
They need to include plans for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop in all these proposals, because that will be technologically viable long before any of it gets past the bureaucrats and NIMBYs.
Come to think of it, teleportation might even be a reality by then.
UPDATE: Tunneling to the Transbay: The Most Likely Approach and Timing
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