Despite Central Subway Delays, Muni Studies Plan To Extend T-Third LineImage: SFMTA
Carrie Sisto
Published on July 13, 2017

Muni will hold a meeting of its District 3 Working Group about extending the T-Third line to North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf this month, despite significant delays on the existing $1.6 billion Central Subway project.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in 2015 conducted initial studies on the potential for extending the line north, and determined there were three major decisions to make: where the line should end, whether it should be underground, and where stations should be located along the way.

It is launching the study phase of the project to answer these questions at a meeting on July 27th. The initial meeting won't be public but SFMTA does plan to solicit community input when developing potential designs for the extension.

The agency plans to combine public input, technical data and cost analysis to shape design alternatives for the T-Third extension. A draft report of its design is planned to be released in the middle of next year, with a final feasibility study issued by the end of 2018. 

Timeline: SFMTA

At the same time, the city and the contractor working on the current Central Subway project — to extend the T-Third line from the Caltrain station at 4th and King streets into Chinatown — are being asked to develop an updated schedule for the project’s completion after contract revisions and other issues have already led to a projected 10-month delay.

Phase 1 of the Third-T line started service in 2007. It was the first new light rail line to begin operation in more than 70 years, and connected Visitacion Valley to Caltrain.  

Phase 1 and 2 and of the T-Third expansion | Image: SFMTA

But the second phase of the project—The Central Subway— is behind schedule. Along this 1.7-mile stretch starting at the Caltrain station at 4th and King streets and extending into Chinatown, four new stations will be constructed:

  • A 4th and Brannan street-level station
  • An underground station with exits at Yerba Buena/Moscone Center and 4th and Folsom streets
  • An underground station at Union Square on Stockton street
  • An underground station at Stockton and Washington streets
Work on the Union Square station. | Photo: SFMTA/Flickr

The most recent report from the Project Management Oversight Committee, which publishes monthly updates on the project’s progress, said the project’s current in-service date is November 2019, more than 10 months behind schedule.

“An achievable substantial completion date for the [project] is likely several months later than the current forecast of November 2019,” according to the May update. 

"The contractor has been unable to achieve the production rates that they established at project inception," SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said. SFMTA has been working closely with contractor Tutor Perini to find ways to recover lost time, he said.

"The good news is that we believe we have stopped the continued slippage of the schedule and can now work to make up the lost time," Rose added.

T-Third extension area under study. | Photo: SFMTA

Although SFMTA will see higher project management costs the longer its completion is delayed, the committee believes it could remain in budget, which includes a fairly significant set-aside for delays and other unplanned expenses. 

But the agency does not expect continued delays on Phase 2 at this point.

"We feel confident with the completion of the forward work," Rose said. The initial timeline and budget were established in 2008, and the project team has been "very diligent in keeping the budget in place and the schedule relatively close to the target," Rose said.

"We established a goal to deliver a project 11 years ago and we are within a year of that target," he added.

The project oversight committee expects to convene a meeting on July 26th and 27th to work through the scheduling issues and develop a new range of achievable completion dates for Phase 2. You can keep track of the progress on SFMTA’s Central Subway site