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Central Subway dig ends

Path to Chinatown complete, but opening day remains an in-transit target

Twin tunnels in the Central Subway, illuminated by turquoise lighting. Photos by Robert Pierce/Flickr

Muni’s incoming Central Subway line broke ground in 2010, but the planning for the 1.7-mile underground extension of the T-Third Street line that will one day connect Bayview to Chinatown stretches back at least 20 years to 1998.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the actual excavation portion of the big dig had finally concluded “a dozen stories beneath Stockton Street.” Mayor Mark Farrell took a hardhat tour of the towering tunnel and remarked on Twitter that the public transit extension was critical for servicing San Francisco’s growing population.

Truth be known, the Central Subway, which is overwhelmingly expensive on a per-mile basis, stops short of some of the most popular destinations on the city’s northeastern side, and continues its infamous rash of delays—projected finishing dates range from 2019 to 2021, although once upon a time the city hoped to have trains running by the end of this year—is probably a far from adequate attempt at meeting the ever-growing city’s ever-growing needs.

But for all of that, it’s still hard to shake the sense of civic excitement that comes with seeing such a large and complicated project that will be forever part of the city’s fabric come together. As usual, the subway project’s tireless photographer Robert Pierce is always on hand to record its progress: