San Francisco's Mayor Newsom and the SFMTA announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) granted its Central Subway project approval to enter into Final Design (FD), which is Phase II of the Third Street Light Rail Project that will connect communities from Visitacion Valley to Chinatown with modern, convenient light rail.
The Third Street Light Rail project represents the most significant investment in the expansion of the Muni system in generations.
This FTA endorsement marks a crucial milestone for the Central Subway project. Approval to enter into Final Design means that for every dollar the SFMTA spends on Final Design for the Central Subway Project, the SFMTA will be reimbursed with federal funds.
In 2009, the Central Subway project received a positive review as part of the technically rigorous federal New Starts program with a "medium-high" project justification rating and "medium-high" overall rating. The project also received a "high" rating for both environmental and transit supportive land use benefits. The project recently received $6 million as part of the federal Fiscal Year 2010 transportation appropriations bill.
Approval to enter into Final Design comes as the Central Subway is moving forward on a variety of fronts. The project is negotiating and awarding design contracts for the tunnel, stations and systems work, and this month utility relocation work is beginning near the tunnel portal and the future Moscone Station in the South of Market neighborhood.
The project is expected to begin service in December 2018 and is estimated to cost $1.6 billion, with almost $1 billion slated to come from the federal government. The SFMTA continues to work with local, state and regional partners to secure non-federal funding to work toward a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Federal Transit Administration in Fiscal Year 2011.