Stephen Ellison

Rooftop Pathway at SF Transbay Terminal Already Being Replaced

Transbay officials say they are taking advantage of one problem to deal with another on the troubled project: fixing the rapidly deteriorating rooftop garden pathway while the $2.2 billion transit terminal remains closed because of steel beams that cracked last year.

On Wednesday, crews were at work removing a 4-inch thick layer of resin-topped decomposed granite that had been used to pave the pathway around the rooftop park.

The work went on while the terminal remains closed to deal with the cracks found in steel support beams across Fremont Street in September. At the time those cracks were found, Transbay spokeswoman Christine Falvey says Transbay officials already knew the rooftop path was cracking apart as well.

"We noticed there was a problem with the pathway immediately after opening. We could see it was not going to hold up to the public on the park level," she said, adding that Transbay opted to fill in the ruts on the surface and hope for the best. But with the winter rains, even though nobody had used it for months, the problem got worse. That is when Transbay decided to act.

"We need to replace it with something that is going to be durable, easy to clean, easy to maintain," Falvey said, "so we are taking this opportunity now while the Transbay terminal is temporarily closed to replace it and we hope to have it all done by the time we have a reopening date."

The cost of it all is still not clear. The original path alone cost $630,000 to install, and it will cost $500,000 to remove the granite, with more to replace it with concrete. Transbay officials say the joint venture contractor, Webcor/Obayashi, should pick up the cost.

"We do feel pretty strongly that this is a warranty issue," Falvey said. "The pathway really started to deteriorate almost at grand opening date."

But the contractor said in a statement that Transbay was "repeatedly cautioned … the product was not right for the project."

Webcor/Obayashi vice president, Amanda Gillespie, said in a statement that Transbay made matters worse by changing the specified normal mix to get a custom dark gray color, and the product "performed as … forewarned."

The matter is headed for a contract dispute resolution board.

Meanwhile, crews of the contractor who wins the bid will soon have to hoist an estimated 50 truckloads of specially colored concrete some 70 feet up to the roof to pave the two-thirds-of-a-mile-long path. Transbay officials say the work will be done while they shore up the cracked beams and be done in time to set a date for reopening.

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