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Mayor Lee & Key Federal Officials Announce $942.2 Million in Federal Funding for Central Subway Project

Funds from Federal New Starts Program to Finance Extension of Muni Metro T Third Line through SoMa, Union Square & Chinatown Neighborhoods

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and several key officials today announced federal approval of an agreement dedicating $942.2 million in federal funds to the Central Subway Project. The agreement finalizes the financing for extending Muni Metro’s T Third Line through South of Market, Union Square and Chinatown and is the latest in a series of rigorous federal, state and local approvals.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and other federal, state and local officials joined Mayor Lee at a ceremony held today at the future site of the Central Subway’s Union Square/Market Street Station to announce the approval of the New Starts funds.

“This historic investment in San Francisco’s modern public transportation system will not only connect our City’s diverse neighborhoods and create thousands of jobs today, but it will vastly improve our transit system for our City’s growing population and workforce,” said Mayor Lee. “We thank President Obama, Secretary LaHood, Democratic Leader Pelosi, Senators Feinstein and Boxer and all our federal, state and local funding partners for their vision and support.”

“When the Central Subway is complete, our City will see a stronger economy, a larger workforce, decreased pollution, less congestion, and faster, safer commutes,” said Leader Pelosi. “Working with partners and leaders from government, business, and the community, this project will serve as an economic engine for our City, improve and enhance our infrastructure, and connect the diverse communities of San Francisco.”

“This federal grant will fund San Francisco’s first new downtown subway in decades, transforming the Third Street line into the busiest in the city and moving tens of thousands through the central business district every day,” said Senator Feinstein. “With bus traffic, rush-hour congestion and pollution on the rise, this quick, emission-free alternative will be a vital addition to our infrastructure. It’s a key investment to modernize San Francisco’s public transit system.”

“There was a time when the transcontinental railroad was finished and the nation was knit together,” said Congresswoman Speier. “The Central Subway Project is one of those moments — bringing San Francisco closer to the Peninsula and Santa Clara counties. This is a great vision and a great day for all commuters.”

“By extending the T Third Line through SoMa, Union Square and Chinatown, we will connect major job, retail and cultural centers to rapid transit and speed up transportation through two of the City’s most congested corridors,” said Board President Chiu. “The Central Subway is an essential addition to our local transit network. We look forward to realizing the decades-long vision of bringing fast, efficient transit to the 4th and Stockton corridors.”

The Central Subway’s Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), the formal agreement of financial assistance through the FTA's New Starts program, was approved by FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff on October 11. The investment will help the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) fund construction of the subway tunnels, subway stations, surface-level station, train tracks and operating systems that make up this critical transit extension. New light-rail vehicles, utility relocation and project design, planning and administration are also included in the total project cost, to be financed in large part by New Starts.

Federal New Starts contributed $92.4 million to the Central Subway Project to date. The remaining $849.9 million will be distributed in annual allocations as the project progresses. The second phase of the two-phase Third Street Light Rail Project, the Central Subway is expected to cost about $1.6 billion, with the federal government contributing close to $1 billion and state and local funding sources providing the remaining amount. Combined, the SFMTA will receive 50 percent of the funding for Phases 1 and 2 of the Third Street Light Rail Project from federal sources (see chart below).


T Third Line 

(Phase 1)

Central Subway 

(Phase 2)


(Phase 1 + Phase 2)


of Total





















(All amounts in millions of dollars)

The Central Subway will extend the T Third Line from the Caltrain Station at 4th and King streets to Chinatown, providing a direct, rapid transit link from the Bayshore and Mission Bay areas to SoMa and downtown. Traveling north from 4th and King streets, T Third Line trains will enter a subway tunnel on 4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets, beneath the I-80 overpass. They will then continue north under 4th Street, stopping at the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station before passing beneath Market Street and the existing Muni and BART tunnels. Trains will then travel below Stockton Street, stopping at the Union Square/Market Street Station before continuing to the line’s terminus in Chinatown.

A major improvement over existing transit service along the congested 4th Street and Stockton Street corridors, the Central Subway will cut travel times by more than half. Peak-hour travel times along this 1.7-mile route now average more than 20 minutes on Muni buses. Travel times on the Central Subway will average less than eight minutes.

With the addition of the Central Subway, the T Third Line is projected to become the most heavily used line in the Muni Metro system by 2030. About 65,000 customers per day are projected to ride the T Third Line in 2030 – about 20 percent more than are projected to ride the most heavily used existing Muni Metro line, the N Judah Line.

Construction is currently underway at four sites along the Central Subway Project alignment. Tunneling contractor Barnard Impregilo Healy Joint Venture is constructing a major excavation known as a launch box at the site in SoMa where tunneling will begin next year. Also in SoMa, work has begun to build below-ground walls, called headwalls, at the future site of the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station on 4th Street between Folsom and Howard streets. At Union Square, two blocks of Stockton Street between Ellis and Geary streets are currently closed to vehicle traffic to allow for headwall construction at the site of the future Union Square/Market Street Station. In addition, crews are working to relocate utility lines in North Beach to prepare to construct a retrieval shaft – an excavation on Columbus Avenue where the project’s two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are planned to be removed in 2014.

The Central Subway Project is the second phase of the SFMTA’s Third Street Light Rail Project. So far, the Third Street Light Rail Project has received $256.8 million in federal funding, including $123.4 million for Phase One of the project. Phase One constructed the 5.2-mile segment of the T Third Line currently in service between the Sunnydale Station in Bayshore and SoMa’s 4th Street Caltrain Station.

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