TRANSBAY TERMINAL CALTRAIN EXTENSION FIASCO
City Hall in San Francisco often turns into a circus more so when the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) goes on the defense to protect some flimsy issues that it had not bothered to study before.
This happens all the time with the SFCTA - it happened several times with the MUNI 3rd Street Lightrail, with the ill conceived SFCTA Transportation Document, Planning for the proposed Geary Blvd., the conduits under Islais Creek, the MUNI East Maintenance Building by 3rd Street and several other major projects all costing millions of dollars.
The City and County of San Francisco have a Planning Department. This Planning Department gave the Myers Development Corporation (MCD) all the required permits and more to build 51 tower housing complex at 80 Natoma. But alas City Hall found out that lo and behold the complex building and more its foundation would encroach and sat in the path of a rail approach to the proposed brand new Transbay Terminal.
The Board of Supervisors should remember and I remind them that in this case the Planning Department failed and failed miserably. Also, the Mayor Office of Economic Department the head of the projects like Maria Ayardi and the superficial head Jesse Blout who at the time of this Special Transbay Hearing - is basking on vacation.
The SFCTA lined up its ducks of experts and even brought to the podium the famous Dr. Sauer who with his heavy Swiss accent told us a thing a two about underground tunnels in Napa rather then dwell on the earthquake prone region by the Bay that is Natoma.
It takes money to bring heavy hitters to testify and in this case we saw a tunnel engineer Dr. Sauer that I have read about but surely it was a pleasure to hear, see, and talk to in person.
My friend Jose Luis took the most practical and sane route. He made an analysis of the soil and found that fifty feet below the surface there is a strata of soil --dense enough to drill a tunnel and with ease. He said we have the know how and technology and said it with a straight face so many times - I believed he has been there below and seen it all.
I have said it many times we need a wider Environmental Impact Assessment on large projects. This assessment could then zero on a project and call for an Environmental Impact Report or Study and take us to the next higher level.
Page 75 of the document provided by the SFCTA talks about most things Environmental and the required documentation that should be in place.
In this case the Myers Development Company (MDC) is in the cockpit and will command a figure that the City and County of San Francisco will have to pay. It does not matter if just for the easement many feet below to accommodate one of the several modes of accommodation.
I like the Four-Track over Four-Track Alignment. This plan will maximize train capacity and minimize the adverse impacts. It would for example eliminate the need for tail tracks and from the bottom four tracks, facilitate a transbay crossing for future high-speed service.
Merchants along 2nd Street can be rest assured that their properties and infrastructure will not be impacted if deep tunneling is a chosen mode especially considering the fact that the Colma Sand Strata is wide enough and strong enough to meet the needs of any sound tunnel.
Right now fill in soil forms the first layer. The second layer is sand dune. The third layer is bay mud. It is proposed to remove about 45 feet of these three layers and substitute it with stronger strata. This could be some from of concrete or a substitute material that is available in plenty.
As a laymen I see the practicality of this design and solution to the Natoma Complex to coexists with the Transbay tunnel and rails some 70 to 80 feet below the land surface.
The Muwkema Ohlone the First People of San Francisco have patrimonial jurisdiction over all of San Francisco. We have seen a concrete jungle grow all over the City and County of San Francisco. If anyone was here in San Francisco in early 1970 there were just a couple of skyscrapers. Today, we have hundreds.
I spoke to Dr. Sauer who is European and understands where I come from. It is important to note that greedy developers have not only occupied the land with a concrete jungle but have now decided to invade the bowels of Mother Earth. There should be some balance.
San Francisco is Earthquake prone and no mention was made about this important fact. While Spirituality and Engineering may seem far apart - Engineers are sensitive and inclined to look at any aspect of any project in detail. In the context of what I have mentioned above, I called upon the engineers and more Jose Luis Cordoba to be sensitive.
From all the facilitation and mediation it seems that all will be well and that the Transbay Terminal will serve the various modes of transport that will occupy the Transbay Terminal which has served millions before. The future is in our hands and that of this great City San Francisco which was named after the compassionate Saint Francis of Assisi.
We have had some problems but it is good to see that brighter minds have stood the test of time and found a solution. I single out Mr. Cordoba and wish him and Mr. Jack Myers the best. As to the City and County Planning Department I say - you have much to offer but you have to get your act together.