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Troubled Haight Street project restarts (again)

Some may prefer to just leave it lie

Haight Street denizens will be relieved to hear that after a brief delay, contractors are once again hard at work on the now 17-month long infrastructure project to rattle the entire neighborhood—or at least, you’d be forgiven if you assumed that was the goal of the project. The actual, stated intent is to replace aging water and sewer lines.

See, work ground to a halt and City Hall rode the subcontractor out of town on a rail back in January, after repeated sinkholes and gas leaks caused by careless digging. (Subcontractor Synergy Management blamed old trolley tracks and dated PG&E records rather than their own work.)

Work started up again in March with new safeguards in place, new legislation brewing that would prevent "D+ contractors" from underbidding on Public Works projects, and a promise that this time everything would progress without incident.

Then came another gas leak in June. To be fair, this incident was a net improvement over the previous year: The San Francisco Fire Department got word right away about said leak, a problem they tamped down in an hour.

Then came another leak. Just last week, in fact, and but a single day after Haight Street merchants (many of whom regard this project as an open plot against their livelihoods) complained to Hoodline about how bad all the digging is for business.

Again, nobody was hurt. And after shutting down for the remainder of the week, work is now back on schedule.

At some point, we have to wonder whether it starts to become perversely impressive: How many times can a single company (Ghilotti Brothers, based in San Rafael) and a single dig come so close to blowing a hole in one of the city’s most admired neighborhoods without actually doing it before it starts to qualify as a kind of record?

On the revised timetable put together earlier this year, the project was set to conclude in 2017, a full 25 months after kicking off. At the present rate, though, a lot of people would probably prefer if they just dropped shovels and called it quits today.