Incompetence Keeps Salesforce Transit Center Closed Until Summer

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The Salesforce Transit Center famously closed a month after it opened in August of 2018.  It was discovered that its support beams were cracking and that building was unsafe.  Fast forward 7 months, and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority is saying that the $2.2 billion transit hub will finally be fixed by June 1, 2019.  But we still have no clear idea when the center will reopen.  Thus far, no one has accepted responsibility for the cracked steel beams, not to mention the tens of millions of dollars it’s costing to replace them.

According to the MTC report, the cracks in the support beams were caused by ‘skipping a necessary grinding process’, among other lapses, but it’s unclear which party will be held accountable (if any). “We intend to hold the party responsible … for all costs incurred from the temporary closure,” City spokeswoman Christine Falvey wrote in an email to media.

Local businesses will also suffer.  The projected retail revenue for the transit center’s 2019-2020 fiscal year shrank by more than $2.1 million from its original target of over $5 million.  It cost $4.1 million just to find out what caused the beams to crack, it’s costing tens of millions to fix them, and no one knows how much in legal fees it will cost to hold someone accountable.

A rendering of the two steel plates that will sandwich the beams above Fremont and First streets in the ‘fixed’ Transit Center. TJPA

The level of incompetence it takes to make a building’s steel support beams crack, mere weeks after its completion, is beyond our measure.  Even the concrete paths in the rooftop park were seen to be crumbling, just weeks after it was opened.   How do you get concrete wrong?  How did you manage to fuck up the sidewalks?  How are we supposed to trust that it’s safe now?

The park’s sidewalks began crumbling shortly after opening, inexplicably.

But with massive public construction projects in San Francisco, this kind of incompetence is commonplace, because the penalty for screwing things up never overshadows the mountains of cash you make screwing the taxpayer.  The same companies who do shotty, overpriced work for the city, are simply re-hired over and over again by their cronies in city hall.  Remember when city attorney Herrera had to sue SFO extension builders Tutor-Saliba & Perini Corp because they overcharged the city by hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2000’s? These contractors overcharged the city by $364 million, but ended up only having to pay back $19 Million after fighting in the courts for 3 years.  The city’s legal bills alone cost $10 million.

Fast forward to 2019, and guess which company the city hired to build the SF Central Subway extension?  That’s right, Tutor Perini, basically the same guys who overcharged the city hundreds of millions of dollars and got away with it.  Should we be surprised that the Central Subway line is millions over budget and delayed years past its original finish date?

Meanwhile, the Salesforce transit hub reopening date, has yet to be determined, as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission still needs to finish its independent peer review report, and the bus agencies need time to transition their services from the temporary terminal. That could take weeks after the June 1st finish date, but probably will take much longer.  So maybe it will reopen mid-June?  I wouldn’t hold your breath though.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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