Transbay Transit Center Set to Reopen on July 1

A view of the top of the Salesforce Transit Center from 21st floor of 201 Mission St., where the Transbay Joint Powers Authority has its offices.  (Chloe Veltman/KQED)

San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center is set to reopen on July 1, nearly 10 months after cracks discovered in the brand-new $2.2 billion bus terminal led to its closure last September.

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On Tuesday the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which oversees the center, announced the reopening date a day after a panel of engineering experts tasked with investigating the building's safety told the mayors of San Francisco and Oakland that the center was structurally sound and can reopen.

"We are pleased to welcome the public back to the transit center and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this temporary closure has caused," said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, who also chairs the Transbay Joint Powers Authority board of directors, in a statement.

The center was shut down on Sept. 25 after workers discovered cracks in a pair of steel girders that help support the building's bus deck where it crosses above Fremont Street. When it closed, the center had been open for bus service for just 44 days.

In the following weeks, as crews began inspecting the rest of the massive structure, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf asked the Bay Area agency that coordinates transportation planning and financing to provide an independent analysis of the cracks and their repair.

A section of one of two Transbay Transit Center girders that were found cracked last September, forcing the facility's long-term closure.
A section of one of two Transbay Transit Center girders that were found cracked last September, forcing the facility's long-term closure. (Transbay Joint Powers Authority)

Last December, investigators determined that cutting torches used to make access holes for welding introduced "micro-cracks" in the steel girders, leading to the failure.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission assembled a peer review panel. That group has signed off on the building restarting operations after a long series of fixes and inspections were completed.

"We agree that the steel structure is ready for service," Therese McMillan, executive director of the MTC, wrote in a letter to the mayors of San Francisco and Oakland on Monday. "The Transbay Transit Center's girder problem was isolated and ... the appropriate repairs have been performed."

MTC officials say the cracked portions have been repaired and the building's design features similar to those pieces have been strengthened.

Read McMillan's letter:

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The center's huge public rooftop park, along with food trucks and public art installations, is due to open July 1.

Muni and Golden Gate Transit bus service will return to the center's street-level plaza "in early July," according to the Transbay Joint Powers Authority.

AC Transit, Greyhound and WestCAT Lynx are expected to restart service at the center from its bus deck by the end of the summer, the authority said.

AC Transit spokesman Robert Lyles said operators who did not drive to the center during the brief time it was open will need to be trained before the agency can resume service to and from the building.

Mayor Schaaf said she hopes the center averts another safety problem in the future.

"I think many of us are still stunned that this type of defect could be in a project of this magnitude," Schaaf said Tuesday.

"I certainly don't just want to welcome this opening, but to really sit down and analyze how we can make sure something like this never happens again."

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