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San Francisco

Haight Gas Rupture Hearing Delayed As Blame Game Continues

The massive Haight street infrastructure project will stay mostly on hold in the coming weeks, as the city board of supervisors juggles a set of hearings investigating the causes of its many safety problems.

An administrative hearing has been delayed from this Tuesday to next week, with a public hearing moved from this Thursday to sometime later — as far out as January.

Five gas line ruptures have resulted from the project since it began in April, plus the occasional sink-hole. Various parties involved, including the city, Pacific Gas & Electric, as well as contractors and subcontractors, have blamed each other for the problems. 

After the most recent rupture in early October, local merchants demanded a press conference with Supervisor Breed and the city's Department of Public Works to reiterate the disruptions and safety hazards caused by the repeated mishaps.

As the next step after the press event, DPW scheduled an administrative hearing for December 1 to determine what agencies involved in the project are responsible for the mishaps, and continued to put the work on hold until their findings were determined.

Breed with local representatives at the event. Photo: Amy Stephenson/Hoodline

According to statements made by Ghilotti Brothers and Synergy, the respective contractor and subcontractor managing the work, to queries made by the Haight Ashbury Merchants Association, part of the problem lies with the street's "as-builts," working diagrams of the street's infrastructure systems.

The contractors claimed that in some cases there was confusion between which lines underground were active and which weren't.

For those keeping score in the blame game, PG&E has previously told us that "safe digging practices were not being used in all these situations, and at the press conference, London Breed singled out Synergy for "cutting corners."

As of last week, though, DPW delayed the administrative hearing on the project from December 1 to December 9, which falls after the Board of Supervisors' last scheduled Government Audit and Oversight (GAO) meeting

Conor Johnston, aide to Supervisor Breed, said in an email last week that because the public, GAO meeting to discuss DPW's findings would be ineffective if held before the administrative hearing, the Board was working to schedule another, later, meeting to address the continuing problems.

"We are working on scheduling a special meeting for Thursday December 10," he wrote. "Failing that, we may have to wait until the first meeting in January."

Until then, work remains on hold—with the two notable exceptions of immediate repairs to keep the street from sinking, and a sewer line replacement. We'll keep you posted about the rescheduled meeting dates. And the causes. 

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