SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Van Ness Project, designed to be San Francisco’s first bus rapid transit system and a model for the future, is years behind schedule.
After breaking ground in 2016, construction was supposed to be completed in three years on one of the San Francisco’s busiest streets. But its new completion date has been moved yet again to 2022.READ MORE: Arrest Made In Fatal Weekend Shooting Outside Walnut Creek Nightclub
- ALSO READ: Grand Jury Report on Van Ness Avenue Project
The project is also $37 million over budget.
The owner of Village Pizzeria, whose restaurant is located on Van Ness, says he’s not sure how much longer he can survive the construction and road blocks. Other businesses have not survived.
“If it keeps up like this, I might have to close too,” said owner Cicero Maciel.
The goal of the improvement project is to add rapid bus lanes and modernize aging underground infrastructure.
And now, a San Francisco Civil Grand Jury report has found that many of the setbacks were foreseeable and avoidable.
Among the findings were:
1. Planning and design processes failed to capture the scope of the project adequately.READ MORE: South Bay Fire Crews Contain Vegetation Fire in San Martin
2. Contracting processes failed to instill accountability.
3. Ongoing project management failed to remediate problems efficiently and effectively
The report found that the delayed completion dates have damaged the public’s confidence in SFMTA to keep its promises.
In a statement, the agency responded:
“We appreciate the work of the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury on the Van Ness Improvement Project. It raises certain issues identified in prior internal audits and we are actively working on incorporating lessons learned from those issues into successful projects throughout the City. The SFMTA has resolved multiple contractor claims relating to the issues in the report, including several where the contractor acknowledged its shortcomings. We regret that the report does not properly reflect the roles and responsibilities of a Construction Management General Contractor on a capital construction project as complex as the Van Ness Improvement Project.”
“Now that the underground work is done we are nearly on-time and on-budget for the surface component of the project. Our teams are applying lessons learned from the Van Ness Improvement Project to other projects in our SFMTA portfolio—including the successful Geary Rapid Project. The recent pace of construction for above ground work reflects the lessons learned by the contractor as well, and we look forward to working with them toward a successful final stage of this project.”
Residents and pandemic-stricken small businesses along the two-mile stretch say they’ve lost a lot of confidence in the timeline.
“It’s very painful because all the businesses around here are closed. We used to do a lot of business for downtown. We lost a lot of business,” said Maciel. “I don’t think it’s going to be better soon.”MORE NEWS: Golden Gate Bridge District Bus, Ferry Passengers Slow to Return To Pre-Pandemic Levels
The report made several recommendations to help the agency improve all parts of the process, including design and contractor selection.