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Transbay Transit Center closed until June

And repairs could last even longer inside beleaguered transit behemoth

Photo by Brock Keeling

The brand new, $2.2 billion Transbay Transit Center in downtown San Francisco will remain closed until June—at least. The body overseeing the project cannot say for sure when the building will permanently open to the public again.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority [TJPA] has not officially announced a repair schedule for the building.

The most recent announcement, dated January 22, says that “a repair schedule is being finalized and will be provided as soon as possible” and that “another comprehensive update” is due when the TJPA board meets again February 14.

However, the San Francisco Chronicle claims that TJPA will release an update Friday specifying that repairs on the cracked girders that necessitated the shutdown will last at least until June, keeping the building shuttered until then.

Even with that update, it’s impossible to say when the transit station will finally, finally reopen to the public; it’s still difficult to predict whether the building will need additional repairs elsewhere.

That means that, at the most conservative estimate, the shutdown will last more than eight months. The transit center shut its doors in late September after a little over one month of full-time service.

Independent review determined in December that the damaged girders were the result of the welding process during construction, which created tiny “micro fractures” around access holes that later expanded under pressure from bus traffic.

In January TJPA reviewed the plans for a fix, a a “sandwich plate bolted connection” involving 224 bolts fixing two long plates to the top and bottom of the damaged girders in order to reinforce them.

While the TJPA board and the independent review commission appointed to oversee the investigation into the fracturing seem confident that the welds explain what happened, the bigger question of why the damage occurred—and who, if anyone, is to blame—remains uncertain.