S.F. Transit Center Contractor Sues Agency in Dispute Over Delays

The bus deck, with AC Transit stalls, at Salesforce Transit Center in downtown San Francisco. The facility is pictured Aug. 12, 2018, and opened for its first full-scale commute Aug. 13.  (Dan Brekke/KQED)

In a development that takes a little more of the shine off San Francisco's new Transbay Transit Center, the principal contractor on the project is suing the agency that oversees the facility for breach of contract.

Transit service to the facility remains shut down after the discovery last month of cracked structural steel — a development that also forced closure of the center's rooftop park.

Now comes wrangling over who should bear the financial brunt of the transit center's long-delayed opening.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court, the contractor — Webcor-Obayashi Joint Venture — says the Transbay Joint Powers Authority has improperly withheld $150 million in payments to penalize it for delays in finishing the project.

But Webcor-Obayashi says the agency itself is responsible for the delays because it made extensive plan changes during construction and committed a long series of design missteps.

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Those alleged mistakes include flawed construction documents and a failure to respond promptly to thousands of contractor requests for information it needed to correct errors in building plans.

In a statement, Transbay Joint Powers Authority said it was still reviewing the suit but that it intends to "hold Webcor-Obayashi Joint Venture responsible for their contractual commitment to deliver this project to the people of the Bay Area and the state of California."

Under its contract with the joint powers authority, Webcor-Obayashi was scheduled to achieve "substantial completion" of the transit center by Dec. 22, 2017. The contractor actually reached that point in late July this year. Oakland's AC Transit began bus service to the facility began Aug. 12.

But that service was suspended last month after the discovery of cracked steel beams in a section of the massive building that extends over Fremont Street.

That discovery also prompted the closure of the transit center's popular 5.4-acre rooftop park.

The park itself had already suffered a post-construction problem: the rapid deterioration of its walkway just weeks after it opened to the public.

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