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Release date: August 6, 2012

*** Press Release ***

Central Subway North Beach Fact Sheet (.pdf)

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced that pre-construction associated with the Central Subway tunnel will begin on August 13 in North Beach. The work involves relocating utility lines on a half-block section of Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets.

The Central Subway tunnel is planned to extend past the last station in Chinatown to North Beach. When tunneling is complete, the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be removed from the ground on Columbus Avenue. The utility work is expected to take approximately four months to complete and is required to prepare for construction of the TBM retrieval shaft.

Surface construction activity will be limited to Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell Street, with some work in the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Union Street. Construction hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To mitigate construction impacts, street sweeping will occur on a daily basis, dust and noise will be monitored and controlled, and a traffic control officer and a flagger will facilitate the flow of traffic during work hours.

North Beach Construction Plan: Key Details

  • Starting on August 13, the contractor will perform potholing within the construction zone. Relocation of a fire hydrant water line, Muni overhead contact system (OCS) line, low-pressure water line and AT&T duct bank will follow.
  • Construction of a TBM retrieval shaft is planned to begin in early 2013 and continue for approximately 10 months. The retrieval shaft will be constructed on Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets. During this time, traffic on this section of Columbus Avenue will be reduced to one northbound lane and one southbound lane.
  • After the retrieval shaft is constructed, it will be covered with decking and all lanes of traffic will be restored.
  • The TBMs will be retrieved in 2014 after tunneling is complete. When the TBMs are removed, traffic will be temporarily impacted.
  • No Central Subway construction is planned to occur in North Beach after the TBMs are removed in 2014.

Utility Relocation Transit Impacts

  • The northbound Muni bus stop on Columbus Avenue at Union Street will be temporarily closed. The following bus routes will be affected and use nearby alternative stops:
    • 30 Stockton and 91 Owl: the previous stop is on Stockton Street at Columbus Avenue, and the next northbound stop is on Columbus Avenue at Mason Street (in front of the library).
    • 8X/8BX Bayshore Express routes: the previous stop is on Columbus Avenue at Green Street, and the next northbound stop is on Powell Street at Lombard Street.
  • The 30 Stockton, 39 Coit, 41 Union, 45 Union/Stockton, and 8X/8BX Bayshore Express routes may experience delays during construction hours.

Utility Relocation Traffic Impacts

  • During construction hours one lane of traffic on one of the following blocks may be closed at a time:
    • Columbus Avenue between Union and Filbert streets
    • Union Street between Columbus Avenue and Powell Street
    • Powell Street between Columbus Avenue and Union Street.
  • At the end of construction each day, all lanes will reopen to traffic.
  • A traffic control officer and a flagger will be on site to facilitate the flow of traffic during work hours.
  • Parking restrictions will be in effect within and around the construction zone.

Utility Relocation Pedestrian Impacts

  • Sidewalks on Columbus Avenue between Union and Filbert streets will not be impacted.

About the Central Subway Project

The Central Subway Project will extend the T Third Line from the 4th Street Caltrain Station to Chinatown, providing a direct, rapid transit link from the Bayshore and Mission Bay areas to SoMa and downtown. Four new stations will be built along the 1.7-mile Central Subway Project alignment – a street-level station at 4th and Brannan streets and three subway stations: Yerba Buena/Moscone Station, Union Square/Market Street Station and Chinatown Station.

Travel times through this busy corridor will be significantly reduced by the Central Subway. During peak hours, current travel between Stockton and Washington streets and 4th and King streets takes more than 20 minutes on Muni bus routes. On the Central Subway, the same trip will take less than eight minutes.

The Central Subway Project is the second phase of the SFMTA’s Third Street Light Rail Transit Project. The first segment of the T Third Line opened in April 2007, restoring light rail service to a high transit-ridership area of San Francisco for the first time in 50 years.

The $1.6 billion project will be funded using a variety of federal, state and local sources, including $942.2 million from the federal New Starts program. Of the total New Starts investment, $92.4 million has already been awarded to the Central Subway Project in anticipation of a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) later this year.

The Central Subway is expected to open to the public in 2019. For more information, visit us online at

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