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Release date: San Francisco’s Central Subway Project Receives Outstanding Rating from FTA

*** Press Release ***

February 5, 2008 

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced today its annual ratings for projects currently in line to compete for federal New Starts funds, including Phase 2 of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) Third Street Light Rail project, the Central Subway. The project received a positive review with a “medium-high” project justification rating and “medium-high” overall project rating. The project also received a “medium-high” rating for mobility improvements and a “high” rating for land use benefits. San Francisco’s Central Subway project is one of only 10 nationwide currently approved by the FTA for preliminary engineering. Projects are rated against a number of measures which reflect the project justification and local financial commitment criteria established under federal law.

Mayor Gavin Newsom stated, "I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation acknowledges the prime importance of the Central Subway project, which will provide the backbone for expanded rail transit services in San Francisco.  I want to thank House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for their continued leadership and support of the entire Third Street Light Rail project.”

Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr., Executive Director/CEO of the SFMTA added: “We appreciate the FTA’s support and guidance to make this project successful. The project is recommended because it will serve a large number of transit customers in a highly congested corridor, and it has a high level of local financial commitment and support. The Central Subway project will provide convenient subway service to jobs, medical care, educational opportunities and entertainment for residents and visitors from Candlestick Point to Chinatown.”

The projected number of future boardings for the T Third Line, including the Central Subway, is 78,000. The Central Subway segment will reduce travel time between the Caltrain station at Fourth Street and King Street to Chinatown from 20 minutes to 7 minutes. It will serve regional transit connections, major tourist destinations, convention facilities and the large number of residents in the corridor who do not have cars.

The Central Subway will extend light rail service in a subway under the South of Market, Union Square and Chinatown neighborhoods. It will operate as an extension of the Third Street light rail line which opened for full service in April 2007. The Central Subway has received over $56 million in New Starts federal funding to date for preliminary engineering activities. The project is scheduled to open in 2016.

The two-phase Third Street project will unite the City’s established civic, business, retail, and cultural centers with the diverse communities along the light rail line; support the revitalization and economic development of communities in the Third Street corridor; and provide access to the Mission Bay development, including the new University of California campus that is now under construction at Mission Bay.

On Tuesday, February 19, 2008, the SFMTA Board of Directors will take action on the Central Subway Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), the actual route alignment for the T Third Line when it is extended form Caltrain to Chinatown.

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