San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other local and federal officials announced Thursday that $942 million in federal funding has been secured for the city’s Central Subway project.
That amount is expected to cover the majority of the cost of the $1.6 billion project to create a new branch of San Francisco Municipal Railway’s T-Third line to link the city’s South of Market neighborhood to Chinatown.
The subway is expected to open to the public in 2019.
"This project is a vital enhancement of our public transit system,” Lee said. "It will connect to some of the most densely populated and rapidly developing areas” of the city.
Pelosi said she and her family are very familiar with that transit corridor because they have waited for packed 30-Stockton Muni buses to go downtown.
"We’d say, ‘Here comes the bus, here comes the bus, there goes the bus! Because it was always crowded,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein also spoke at Thursday afternoon’s announcement, saying that the Central Subway is projected have the second-highest ridership per mile of all subway and light-rail proposals seeking federal funding nationwide.
"There’s no question it’s expensive, but it’s worth it if people use it,” Feinstein said.
Some have criticized the cost of the project.
One group of opponents filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to halt construction because of its impact on Union Square, the proposed site of one of the subway’s stations.
The lawsuit was filed by the group SaveMuni.com, which argued that the city charter forbids building a structure on park property without first getting approval from voters.