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About The Bay: SF Central Subway Project Brings Noise, Traffic, Uncertainty

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A woman walks by the new Transbay Transit Center construction site on Fremont St. in San Francisco. (CBS)

A woman walks by the new Transbay Transit Center construction site on Fremont St. in San Francisco. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – As San Francisco prepares for one of the most expensive public works projects in history, some are complaining loudly, but partly so they can be heard above all the other noise in the city.

The Central Subway Project, which would link the Caltrain Terminal to central Market Street and Chinatown, has a $1.5 billion price tag.

And while many are complaining about that price tag, it has been hard to hear over all the road work going on in Union Square.

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

“We’re moving the utilities from the middle of the road to the sidewalk,” a construction supervisor told KCBS’ Mike Sugerman. “They are going to build the station here and there can’t be utilities when they do the open excavation.”

And much of that digging and construction work is taking place right in the heart of Union Square, the tourism hub of  San Francisco.

“We’re moving the wires that are there under the street and moving them under the sidewalk,” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose. “So we have to dig into the street and dig into the sidewalk to make sure that we can make that relocation.”

Rose said he knows all the noise and hard work could be for naught.

“It’s not a done deal,” he said.

That’s because he House Appropriations Committee has introduced a bill to cut off federal funding, more than a billion dollars worth, which would kill the project.

So what happens to all those wires when they are moved around?

“The utility wires can still live under the sidewalk. They just wouldn’t be on the street,” said Rose. “We’re really doing that so we can start digging after the start of the Central Subway Project.”

They won’t start tunneling until funding is secure and politics will play a big role in that. Some Republicans would love to bury a project in Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s district, though there are lots of critics in both parties of the plan.

But not Ed Fain.

“In 20 years, we’re going to look back and say, what a bunch of whiners we were that we couldn’t handle a little noise and traffic,” he said. “But in the meantime, it stinks.”

And Fain would know. He works at the flower stand about 10 feet away from the worst of all the noise and digging.

You can hear Mike Sugerman’s About the Bay reports on Mondays at 6:40am, 7:40am and 8:40am on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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