Blame swirls over Central Subway delays

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin is not all too pleased with the news that the Central Subway Project is facing a delay of up to 10 months.

Central Subway Program Director John Funghi, who spoke to the San Francisco Examiner, said that if the transit agency does not make changes now, the project will be 10 months late, which would delay the opening of the subway from Dec. 26, 2018 to Nov. 14, 2019.

The 1.7-mile Central Subway will connect people to Chinatown from Union Square and to rest of the Muni Metro system and to BART. The subway will also extend out to Yerba Buena and Moscone Center.

Construction in Chinatown has affected businesses, said Peskin, who met with merchants last week:

“The frustration in that room was palpable, and if anyone has walked through this stretch of Chinatown lately on Stockton, you also know that their anger is absolutely justified.”

He added:

“Long-term businesses including legacy businesses in Chinatown are seeing their sales plummet.”

Peskin said given the  delay of the project, the Board of Supervisors should consider some sort of compensation for merchants:

“I intend to take action soon to help the struggling merchants nearby.”

A monthly final report of the Central Subway Project Oversight Committee, dated May 20, 2017, cites a delay in work related to the last remaining active contract of the “Stations and Systems/Track Work” will most likely not be completed until June 5, 2019.

The work had been scheduled for “substantial” competition by February 2018, according to the report.

The last remaining part of the project includes constructing the three underground stations, the one surface station, and all components related to running light rail vehicles on the surface and underground. Tutor Perini is the contractor tasked to complete this portion of the project.

Funghi told the Examiner that Tutor Perini had fallen behind schedule, but there is a dispute on who is to blame for the delay of the $1.6 billion subway project.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose told SFBay that the Tutor Perini started construction 24 days late.

Funghi said to the Examiner that Tutor Perini had submitted paperwork late during a “submittal process,” while Tutor Perini claims the SFMTA made design changes during the same process, which caused the late construction start.

Tutor Perini could possibly hire more crew members to help expedite the project from its own budget, said Rose.

CORRECTION An earlier version of the story said Tutor Perini would be able to to use contingency funds from the Central Subway Project budget to hire more crew members. This is incorrect. SFbay apologizes for the error.

Crews working in Chinatown are already working two 12-hour shifts, six days a week, said Rose.

Rose said the SFMTA is still figuring out how much time could be saved if Tutor Perini hires more crew members:

“While they are having challenges in meeting the timeline, we are doing everything we can to help them accelerate the work.”