SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center reached a milestone this week when construction came above ground for the first time.

Hardhats and dignitaries gathered on Howard Street to marvel at a very big beam, or more accurately a 60-foot steel column, which will be going up to start the center’s structural steel assembly.

“I’m thrilled. I’m excited. I can’t be more proud of reaching this milestone today,” said Maria Ayerdi Kaplan, executive director of the Transbay Joints Powers Authority.

She explained this is the first time since the project began that the public will be able witness the work in progress.

“It makes a huge difference. I think when the public starts seeing the Transit Center coming up or emerging from the ground, they know it’s real and that it’s coming soon, and it is coming soon,” she said.

With residential, retail, and a roof garden; the facility will link 11 transit providers within eight Bay Area counties. Also being celebrated— the 8,000 jobs the project has created.

“So far this has been a life saver for us. In this middle of the recession this thing started. It kept folks working when nobody was working,” said Mike Theirault with the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council.

The “Grand Central Station” of the West set to open in 2017.