San Francisco Subway Funding a Question for New Boss

Federal Transit Administration asking tough questions

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010  |  Updated 2:30 PM PDT
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San Francisco Subway Funding a Question for New Boss

SFMTA

Muni gets a new director of transit, but also some tough questions about funding for its long-delayed central subway project.

Two weeks ago, local dignitaries including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Municipal Transportation Authority Director Nathaniel Ford got together to break ground on Muni's Central Subway line connecting the T-Third to Chinatown.

But the controversial project could lose federal funding if the SFMTA can't come up with $164 million in local and state money according to a letter from the Federal Transit Administration.

The FTA is threatening to withhold $942 million if the local transit agency can't come up with its own share.

The SFMTA is also being asked to prove that project won't break the agency's budget -- which, as it happens, is already broken.

It's the first in what will probably be a long series of headaches for Muni's new Director of Transit, John Haley, who recently arrived from Houston, Texas.

The federal agency recently pulled $70 million in funding from BART's Oakland Airport Connector, and "there seems to be a boondoggle-unfriendly wind blowing through the Obama Administration's FTA," jokes the San Francisco Weekly.

Jackson West is, in theory, in favor of more subways, but in practice, this project does seem poorly planned.

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