A project to create a new branch of San Francisco’s subway moved closer to reality after local and federal officials announced they have secured $942 million in federal funding for the undertaking.
That amount should cover the majority of the estimated 1.6 billion it will take to expand San Francisco Municipal Railway’s T-Third line and link the city’s South of Market neighborhood to Chinatown.
The subway, which would give riders going downtown an alternative to the oft-crowded 30-Stockton Muni buses that exclusively serve the path, is expected to open to the public in 2019.
The new branch will cut by more than half the time it currently takes to move along the 1.7-mile route by bus, Muni officials said.
The Central Subway will start above ground near the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets, then enter a subway tunnel on Fourth Street under the Interstate 80 overpass. It will have stops at Yerba Buena/Moscone, Union Square/Market Street and Chinatown.
The Central Subway is projected to have the second-highest ridership per mile of all subway and light-rail proposals seeking federal funding nationwide, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said.
SaveMuni.com, a group seeking to halt construction because of its impact on Union Square, recently filed a lawsuit against the project, arguing that the city charter forbids building a structure on park property without first getting approval from voters.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who noted the project has drawn past lawsuits that have not slowed down construction, said this most recent lawsuit would not stop construction.