Final Central Subway contract awarded

The final major construction contract for the Central Subway was awarded by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation board despite a report by a federal consultant saying the project’s contingency budget and schedule are dwindling.

The report said the project’s contingency budget will decrease from $165 million — the minimum set by the Federal Transit Administration — to $65 million, while extra space in the schedule went from 14.8 months to 5.2 months after the award of the construction contract.

Contingency funds and scheduling typically provide support for the project in case unforeseen problems occur during the construction.

Tutor Perini Corporation was awarded the $840 million contract, which includes the construction of the stations, tracks and systems for the 1.7 mile extension of Muni’s T-Third Street light-rail from the Caltrain station on Fourth and King streets to Chinatown.

The transit agency’s engineer, though, had put the contract estimate around $720 million to $750 million.

Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said the award of contract would not put the $1.6 billion Central Subway project over budget or behind schedule, but the project will have “less buffer.”

He said that with the award of the final contract, budget and scheduling will be locked down:

“In about a year or two, we will have caught back up with where we needed to be, where they (the FTA) would like us to be, where we would like to be in terms of having adequate schedule and contingency. The concerns are real and valid. We believe that we can manage the risk associated with a smaller contingency.”

Project Manager John Funghi said he continues to meet with the FTA and the consultant assigned to the project at least three times a week. He echoed the same thoughts as Reiskin to reassure SFMTA board members that awarding the final contract will bring certainty to the project’s budget and schedule.

The Central Subway is scheduled to open for service in 2019.