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Answers on Transbay Transit Center fracture problem expected in January

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“We can’t put a timeline on it at this point”

jacks holding up the structure
Jacks in place as part of the Transit Center’s emergency shoring system.
Photo by Brock Keeling

On Tuesday, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s [SFCTA] deputy director for capital projects was supposed to provide answers as to when the still-shuttered Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Park might reopen.

Instead, Deputy Director Eric Cordoba told the SFCTA board that he didn’t have much to report.

“Preliminary findings will be presented to the Transbay Joint Powers Authority this coming Thursday,” said Cordoba at Tuesday’s hearing, but confessed that a more in-depth analysis of the problem will only be ready to present “within the next month—or two months maximum.”

In a memo circulated ahead of the hearing, Cordoba explained that city organs are still busy testing the materials that compose the terminal’s faulty girders:

A series of samples were collected from the affected girder in accordance with a plan and procedures agreed to by the panel and sent to an independent lab in New York for a series of metallurgical analyses.

All mechanical testing is anticipated to be complete by December 14. The final report on the root cause assessment is anticipated by early January 2019.

[...] At this time, it is difficult to determine when the fix will be complete, since a lot depends on the lead time for the material s needed to implement the fix.

Cordoba writes that “structural engineers have developed and analyzed a variety of fixes,” but until someone figures out precisely which one the situation calls for, the best this preparation can do is “reduce the implementation time” in the future.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who chairs the board, asked Cordoba, “So the question is when, and the answer is we don’t know?”

To which Cordoba replied, “We have speculation, but I’d rather have the experts address that to the board on Thursday.”

Cordoba added, “We were hoping to have more ready today” and noted that the problem is “very complicated.”

Photo by Brock Keeling

Dennis Turchon, construction manager on the Transbay Transit Center project, also declined to guess when a repair might be implemented (much less completed), telling Peskin, “We can't put a timeline on it at this point.”

Peskin, transparently grumpy about the lack of clear answers, asked, “Any comment on this otherwise depressing item?”

No one else had anything to say in response.

The new multibillion-dollar facility has been closed since the discovery of cracks in the bus bridge on September 25, just a few weeks after it opened.

Although a temporary shoring system is in place to prevent the damaged section from degrading further, the building remains closed to both vehicles and commuters.

Cordoba noted Tuesday that no additional cracks have been found anywhere and that inspections are ongoing.