Muni changes course on millions in bond funds

Delays in spending a voter-approved 2014 bond measure on transportation infrastructure in San Francisco has prompted transit officials to reprogram some of the bond money into other projects that are ready to go and in need of funds.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved redirecting $26.2 million from the first bond issuance of the 2014 Transportation and Road Improvement General Obligation Bond from Muni transit improvements to Muni facility upgrades.

Along with the reprogramming of the bond money, directors also are requesting to a second issuance of $92.8 million from the Board of Supervisors.

Monique Webster, a senior manager of capital finance for the SFMTA, said many of the Muni Forward projects programmed in the first bond issuance required more public outreach from the SFMTA before construction could begin:

“Some of those projects had required more extensive public outreach than what was originally anticipated, and so the cash flows have not been moving quite as rapidly as we initially anticipated.”

Last month, President of the Board of Supervisors London Breed criticized SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin for the sluggish spending of the $500 million general obligation bond.

Besides having to do more public outreach for many of the Muni Forward projects, Reiskin said there were coordination issues with other city departments and finding available contractors that led to the slow spending of the first bond issuance.

The SFMTA was issued $70 million during the first bond issuance in July 2015.

With the second issuance of the bond money, the SFMTA plans to continue to spend some of money on a number of Muni improvements, including on the L-Taraval, N-Judah, 5-Fulton, 7-Haight/Noriega, 14-Mission, 22-Fillmore and 30-Stockton, according to a SFMTA staff report.

The SFMTA will spend $21.1 million in upgrading its Burke Warehouse facility that will eventually house overhead wires and provide extra capacity storage for the transit agency.

Another $11 million will go towards the second phase of Islais Creek project. The project includes the construction of a 65,000 square foot motor coach maintenance and operations facility, according to the SFMTA.

Other projects the second bond issuance will fund toward the electrification of Caltrain ($20 million), the BART canopy project ($3 million), and a number of bike and pedestrian safety projects.

The Board of Supervisors will need to approve both the reprogramming of the first issuance of the bond money and to authorize the second issuance of the bond money.

Webster said the second issuance of the bond money to the SFMTA is scheduled for the fall.