Central Subway gains an exit strategy

A couple months back, we learned that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency would no longer be tunneling under Columbus Avenue to make way for a new Muni route.

Happy news for North Beach residents and businesses. Disappointing news for those of us looking for a better means of transportation into the neighborhood.

We also learned that SFMTA director Ed Reiskin had a master plan: Turn the dilapidated Pagoda Palace theater at Columbus and Powell into a Chinatown-North Beach hub for the Central Subway line.

Thursday, that plan got a kick-start.

SFGate reports that the SFMTA and owner of the theater property reached an agreement on a two-year lease that would allow the SFMTA to demolish the current property and extract tunnel boring machines at the site.

(And when we say tunnel boring we mean like “to bore a hole.” Not: “This movie is so boring I could fall asleep.” I, for one, needed that explained to me.)

Reiskin said in a statement:

“Extracting the (tunnel boring machines) in this location reduces construction impacts in North Beach while considering the City’s current needs and keeping options open for the future.”

While this new proposal may keep North Beach residents happier, it is ruffling the feathers of a group called Save Muni who claim that the extraction will disrupt the foundations of nearby buildings.

But the group’s website also packs in literature about a multitude of problems behind the Central Subway plan and refers to the “Muni Death Spiral.” So they probably won’t like any new proposals made about said Muni line.

This two-year lease is capped at $3.15 million, while demolition of the Pagoda and extraction of the machines is estimated at about $9.15 million. The lease still subject to approval by the SFMTA board, SFGate reports.