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Fremont Street reopens [Updated]

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But the Transbay Transit Center remains closed

Heavy machinery and extendable jacks holding up the ceiling of part of the Transbay Transit Terminal, with a worker in a scissor lift inspecting them.
Installing jacks to shore up damaged areas of the new terminal.
Courtesy TJPA

Update: Fremont Street, which had been closed since September 25, has reopened. However, transit operators will continue to provide bus service at the Temporary Transbay Terminal.

Update October 11: Fremont Street was originally scheduled to open this week, that being one of the only hard dates anybody involved with the ongoing repair efforts at the Transbay Transit Center (Salesforce Transit Center) was willing to commit to at last week’s emergency TJPA meeting.

But on Wednesday TJPA announced that, in fact, Fremont Street will remain closed until at least next week.

In a press release, TJPA blamed “the complexity of the four-level designed shoring system” for the delay and announced that the target date for Fremont Street has moved to October 17 instead.

Executive Director of the TJPA Mark Zabaneh said in a statement that “it is important that we have an extremely robust shoring system to ensure that all levels of the transit center are safe and secure” and tried to frame the delay as a product of fastidiousness.

Materials testing to find out what actually caused the damage to the terminal—and how long it could take to potentially fix—is supposed to begin next week.

The brand-new, already-broken $2.2 billion Transbay Transit Center will be gone until November, the director in charge told the Transbay Joint Powers Authority at a special Tuesday meeting.

Executive Director Mark Zabaneh said that it’s impossible to say how long the terminal will remain closed to bus traffic until there’s a diagnosis on what precisely caused cracks in key support beams over Fremont Street.

“My goal is weeks, not months,” said Zabaneh, but quickly added, “It’s going to be more than four weeks.”

The timeline laid out by terminal construction manager Dennis Turchon calls for testing of the damaged area to carry on for about the last half of October.

“Once you know the cause a permanent fix can be confirmed, and we’ll be able to install,” Turchon told TJPA.

Right now a system of hydraulic jacks is in place to take pressure off of the damaged beams—a temporary fix not suited for the weight of bus traffic, which has been rerouted to the temporary Transbay Terminal.

Turchon did add that he’s confident that Fremont Street, which is presently closed in the area around and beneath the transit center, should reopen by October 12.

jacks holding up the structure
Jacks holding up part of the damaged structure.
Photo by Brock Keeling

So far here’s no telling what caused fissures to appear in the pair of supports, or at least nothing anybody is willing to say in public.

Asked whether they’ve checked other beams in the structure, Turchon said that “the first thing we did” was look at the similar supports over First Street and assured directors there were no visible problems.

Pressed by Supervisor Jane Kim as to where the steel came from—seven different sources, because no one mill could have produced enough steel in time—and whether the materials might be to blame, Turchon replied, “We had quality [control] in every location.”

“Is it possible the QA [quality assurance] was inconsistent when we had them in seven different locations?” Kim asked.

Turchon insisted that since the inspectors all worked for the same company in every locale this shouldn’t have happened.

“It could be a fabrication issue. It could be an installation issue,” said Zabaneh. “It could be a design issue.”

But it'll be nearly a month before the city hopes to crack the mystery.

Light filtering through the lattice on the bus deck of the new Transbay Terminal. Patricia Chang