Funding Up In The Air For San Francisco’s Central Subway

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Plans for San Francisco’s Central Subway remain on track, but much of the Federal funding needed for the project has not yet arrived.

The route would begin at the Caltrain station on 4th and King in San Francisco and extend into the Chinatown neighborhood. Officials had hoped to have the route in place by as soon as 2018.

The 1.7 mile rail extension comes at a cost of $1.6 billion. That comes out to about $190,000 for every step a pedestrian could take along the planned route.

San Francisco voters approved a five-cent sales tax to pay for a portion of the project, but the remaining 75 percent was expected to come from the Federal Department of Transportation. That money hasn’t arrived yet.

“That three-to-one contribution is unheard of. It’s a prime opportunity and that opportunity doesn’t come around very often,” declared project manager John Funghi. “It’s not final yet, but it’s very close.”

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

Preparations were already underway below the Bay Bridge approach, with crews moving electric and sewer lines in preparation for the big tube.

The project means cutting a 15-minute ride into a 7-minute ride, at a cost of $1.6 billion. Some locals have been asking the question – is the subway worth $1.6 billion?

“Yes, it’s very worth it,” said Funghi. “It’ll get you from point “a” to point “b” in less than half what you’re currently experiencing on your morning and daily commute.”

“When you multiply that by the 65,000 riders that are going to ride the system on a daily basis, that’s huge,” continued Funghi.

If federal money for the project comes through, the debate over it’s price tag may become a moot point. There is no telling how long a delay in funding could postpone completion of the project.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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