SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Work crews were making progress Monday in the scramble to get the new Transbay Transit Center up and running again.
A pair of cracked steel beams shut down the transit center and a block of Fremont Street last week. As of Monday morning, the first step in getting the hub reopened has been completed.
Since Friday evening, crews have labored to put six support jacks in place under the bottom beam above Fremont Street, completing the first of three phases in the process of shoring up the center structurally.
“The four yellow jacks in total can carry up to 100 tons in capacity and the blue jacks carry up to 800 ton capacity. We will not being using the full capacity of the jacks,” said Transbay Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Mark Zabaneh.
Zabaneh said phase two involves getting more materials that will relieve some more pressure from the girders so that all the girders don’t have pressure on them.
“So at that point, we will be able to take some samples and determine the cause of the cracks,” said Zabaneh. “What we’re doing right now is building the shoring system as materials come to the job site.”
Construction crews have focused their work on the Fremont Street side of the transit center. So far, no issues have been found on the 1st Street side of the sprawling facility.
“It has similar beam to column to configuration and similar loading to Fremont Street,” explained Zabaneh. “We exposed the area on 1st Street to make sure there are no cracks and we found no cracks. We’re in the mode of monitoring the girders. We have no reason to believe that the cracks will develop on 1st Street.”
Monday is the start second week of the work impacting traffic on Fremont Street and forcing buses to use the temporary Tranbay Terminal.
Zabaneh said he understands people’s frustration.
“I’d like to apologize to the public for the inconvenience that this has caused and assure them that we’re doing everything we can in order to open Fremont Street as soon as possible, and the transit center,” said Zabaneh. “I’m very disappointed with what happened. I know saying I’m disappointed is not enough. We we’ve been doubling our efforts to regain their trust.”
Officials said it will take two weeks of testing just to determine why the beams — which are part of the support for the rooftop park — cracked in the first place.
But there was some good news Monday.
“The crack…is only in a localized area. It’s in a very specific spot,” said Dennis Turchon with the Transbay Joint Powers Authority.
Interestingly, Herrick Steel — the Stockton-based company that made the two beams that cracked — will also be providing the beams for shoring up the area as well.
“It’s a warranty issue and they are the most familiar,” explained Turchon. “In a situation like this, you are looking for readily available readily accessible material and they had it and are ready to work.”
At this point San Francisco Mayor London Breed is taking a wait and see approach.
“At this point I’m satisfied with how it is being handled. But at the end of the day, we need to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible,” said Breed.
Big as it is, the newly opened Transbay Terminal is just the first part of a mega billion dollar project.
The second part calls for spending $9 billion to tunnel some three miles under San Francisco to bring trains into the city. But now some at city hall say its time to hit the brakes on any future funding until they get to the bottom of what went wrong.
“I don’t think they have the ability to do it,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin. “I want to stop funding them. I want to a new agency.”
Fellow Supervisor Jane Kim, who sits on the Transbay Joint Powers Authority Board that Peskin wants to get rid of, says he may have a point.
“I think that it is completely appropriate for the city and county of San Francisco is an investor in the terminal to hold the TJPA accountable,” said Kim.
Monday afternoon, more materials were brought to start phase two. There is still no definitive timeline as to when all the work will be complete.