On the wrong track: city says subway contractor used improper steel

Contractors for the Central Subway installed miles of steel rail that don't comply with specifications for the $1.6 billion project, the San Francisco Examiner reported Thursday. As a result, the new line's opening may be postponed, pushing the already-delayed project further behind schedule.

The Examiner obtained the information from a letter sent by SFMTA Program Manager of Project Delivery Eric Stasevitch, in which contractor Tutor Perini was ordered to promptly lay higher-strength steel tracks instead.

Approximately 3.2 miles of track made of "standard strength" steel were laid from the opening of the tunnel at Fourth and King streets to a bit further than Market and Stockton streets. When the new line is completed, T-Third trains will travel mostly underground from the Fourth Street Caltrain Station to Chinatown.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose told the Examiner that the steel used doesn't present a safety issue and that these problems are typical of larger projects. According to Rose, the transit agency is working with Tutor Perini to see if any of the current tracks can be used or if all must be replaced.

Stasevitch also noted in his letter that Tutor Perini must pay all claims, costs, losses and damages. "I think it certainly raises a lot of questions about the quality of our contract work," said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim.

Phase 1 and 2 and of the T-Third expansion. | Via SFMTA

As we reported last December, the Central Subway's main contractor reported that the $1.6 billion project wouldn't be completed any earlier than 2021—a full year after the city's expected completion date, and three years later than the original target. 

Tutor Perini also said that the project will be tens of millions of dollars over budget.

But city officials also claimed last month that the project is on track to be ready by December 2019. The latest findings could lead to at least a month of delays, although no exact timeline has been determined.

 According to the Examiner, Kim and District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin are both calling for a hearing that explores the project's construction delays.

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On the wrong track city says subway contractor used improper steel