Full steam ahead for Central Subway

San Francisco received the go-ahead from the feds this week to proceed with the 1.7 mile Central Subway.

On Wednesday, Mayor Ed Lee received official approval to move forward with the $1.6 billion subway plan from the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The new extension of Muni’s T-Third light rail line would run under Stockton and Fourth streets, from the downtown Caltrain station to Chinatown. Underground stops would be built at Moscone Center and Union Square.

All The City has to do now is wait for a nearly $1 billion grant they applied for from the Federal Transit Administration. Lee said Wednesday’s approval is “a good sign that the final grant agreement is on its way.”

$50 million from the first letter of funding will go to digging a massive hole in the ground at Fourth and Bryant streets. Into the hole will go a tunnel boring machine that will use “deep tunneling” to minimize surface disruption during construction. Muni lines have already been rerouted for the future construction.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Executive director, Ed Reiskin, pointed out:

“If they’re going to allow us to spend another $50 million to dig a big hole in the ground, you’d think they’d be confident in our ability to secure funding to finish the project.”

Once the final funding agreement is approved, it would sit in Congress for 60 days before taking effect. Reiskin said his concern isn’t about whether or not Congress will fund the project but how quickly will they hand out the money.

The subway is expected to be running by 2019.