Community News

Couplet Composers Wanted!

Community News - Mon, 05/09/2016 - 09:28
Example of a Chinese Couplet

            Example of a Chinese Couplet

The Chinese Community Development Center (CCDC) is hosting a couplet contest. The winning couplet will become a permanent part of the Central Subway Chinatown Plaza. Passengers will see the couplet prominently installed at the station plaza with dimension of 9’ by 11.5’ inches high.

Rendering of the future Chinatown Plaza

 Rendering of the future Chinatown Plaza

The contest kicked off on Monday, April 25 at the Chinatown Community Center. John Funghi, Central Subway Program Director, provided an update on construction, the Chinatown Plaza and thanked the community for their cooperation. Francis So of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce discussed the 20 years of advocacy behind the Central Subway Project and Chinatown Plaza.

The Chinese couplet is a Chinese poem comprised of two lines that adhere to certain rules. Both lines must have the same number of Chinese characters and corresponding characters with the same lexical category. The meaning of the two lines needs to be related, with each pair of corresponding characters having related definitions. Couplets are written in calligraphy on red paper or carved on wooden uprights. They frequently adorn buildings.

Here are some examples of couplet and their English translations:

書山有路勤爲徑  The mountain of books has one way and hard work serves as the path

學海無涯苦作舟  The sea of learning has no end and effort makes the boat

To enter the contest, the poet must compose an original seven character couplet on the official entry form. The couplet’s theme should relate to either transportation or Chinese history and culture. The entry form can be mailed or hand delivered to the CCDC Program Office at 663 Clay Street by 4p.m. on Friday May 20. There is no entry fee and only one entry per person. The contest is focused on the couplet prose, a professional calligrapher will produce the calligraphy. To ensure a fair selection, the couplets will be judged by a community panel. In addition to having the couplet a permanent part of Chinatown Plaza, the winner will receive a $150 dining gift certificate. Contestants with questions about the contest should contact Jerri Diep, CCDC at 415-984-1461.

Good luck to all contestants!



Categories: Community News

Public Art Program Update

Community News - Tue, 03/22/2016 - 15:44

The San Francisco Arts Commission’s Public Art Program is overseeing the creation of a diverse and exciting permanent public art collection in the four Central Subway stations. Each station’s distinct identity will be enhanced by beautiful art that the public can enjoy when the Central Subway opens in 2019.

Artwork was selected in accordance with the Central Subway Public Art Program Goals:

  • To commission vibrant high quality works of art to reflect San Francisco’s enduring commitment to the exceptional design of civic spaces
  • To enhance the quality of transit riders’ experience through a range of high quality, signature public artwork by both local and national artists
  • To create a unique visual identity for each station, architecturally and culturally, by commissioning artworks that dramatically enliven the station interiors and reflect the diverse history and vitality of surrounding neighborhoods
  • To develop artworks that will remain in a busy underground transit environment for many years through the use of durable materials and fabrication methods that allow for easy maintenance and are resistant to vandalism
  • To engage new artists and maintain a fresh and lively environment in the Central Subway following the completion of construction through art installations at each station

Here’s what you will see at the different stations:


Artist Yumei Hou’s Yang Ge Dance of Northeast China will be installed in the ticketing hall

Artist Yumei Hou’s Yang Ge Dance of Northeast China will be installed in the ticketing hall

Traditional Chinese paper cut artist Yumei Hou will create two large-scale laser-cut metal artwork installations for the Chinatown Station based on the Yang Ge (Sprout Dance). This piece depicts a popular outdoor folk dance performed to celebrate happy occasions that originated in the northeastern provinces of China. The artist’s design emphasizes the spirit and the most iconic figures of the dance along with scenes of country life. The cut metal panels will be painted a vibrant red and installed so that they stand slightly off from the wall to allow for shadow casting. The artwork will be located in the mezzanine level and in the ticketing hall.

Tomie Arai’s design, Urban Archeology on the façade of the station

Tomie Arai’s design, Urban Archeology on the façade of the station

Urban Archeology, designed by Tomie Arai, illustrates the history of Chinatown through large scale photographs that will be translated into architectural glass panels. Upon approaching the station, people will come upon images of the contemporary Chinatown community on the façade along Stockton Street and Washington Street. Inside the station, Arai’s work will continue to the platform level with historical images dating back to the 19th century.

Artist Clare Rojas’ A Sense of Community will be located on the concourse level cavern wall

Artist Clare Rojas’ A Sense of Community will be located on the concourse level cavern wall

Artist Clare Rojas created a two dimension piece for the cavern wall at the concourse level of the Chinatown Station. Her piece entitled A Sense of Community uses imagery obtained from Chinese textile samples which have been translated onto tile and arranged in a pattern reminiscent of Cathedral Quilting. Each colorful swatch will be framed within in small circle closely connected to the other circles.

Union Square| Market Street

Erwin Redl’s Lucy in the Sky will create light effects along the underground connection corridor

Erwin Redl’s Lucy in the Sky will create light effects along the underground connection corridor

The artwork by Erwin Redl for the Union Square|Market Street Station titled Lucy in the Sky is an illuminated installation composed of hundreds of translucent 10 x 10 inch light panels, each containing an array of color LEDs. The light panels, suspended along the entire length of the concourse level corridor’s ceiling in a diamond-shaped pattern, will be computer programmed to slowly change color and display simple patterns and animations, creating a dazzling spectacle for commuters.

Illuminated Scroll by Jim Campbell and Werner Klotz will wind through the ceiling struts at the platform level

Illuminated Scroll by Jim Campbell and Werner Klotz will wind through the ceiling struts at the platform level

For the platform level of the Union Square|Market Street Station, artists Jim Campbell and Werner Klotz are creating a site-specific stainless steel sculpture titled Illuminated Scroll. This artwork is in the form of a ribbon which is comprised of highly polished steel disks, and will be installed overhead, winding its way through struts along the length of the platform. The sculpture will reflect the passengers and trains passing below.

Hughen Starkweather’s Convergence Commute Patterns will create interesting light effects

Hughen Starkweather’s Convergence Commute Patterns will create interesting light effects

For the station entry on Geary and Stockton, Hughen Starkweather (Amanda Hughen and Jennifer Starkweather) will integrate a design into the glass deck and the front faces of the glass elevator enclosures. Their artwork titled Convergence: Commute Patterns is based on the dynamic and diverse pathways, commute patterns and arterial structures that exist above and below the streets of the Bay Area. The visual impact of this design treatment to the station’s exterior would shift from subtle during the day to backlit and more vibrant at night.

Yerba Buena|Moscone

The history of the construction of the Moscone Center will be incorporated in Catherine Wagner’s artwork

For the Yerba Buena|Moscone Station, Catherine Wagner will translate photographs she took in the late 70s documenting the construction of the George Moscone Convention Center into six large-scale photographic sculptural reliefs sandblasted and laser etched onto granite stone panels for installation on the concourse level. For the surface level at the station entry, a photograph from this series will be translated into art glass for installation at the glass curtain wall.

Leslie Shows’ Face C/Z will be installed in the ticketing hall

Leslie Shows’ Face C/Z will be installed in the ticketing hall

For a prominent wall in the ticketing hall on the concourse level of the Yerba Buena|Moscone Station, Leslie Shows will create an integrated two-dimensional artwork. This artwork, titled Face C/Z, is based on photographic images of iron pyrite rock captured by a flatbed scanner. Working with a glass fabricator, the artist will translate this imagery into a durable artwork fabricated in mirrored, painted, and engraved glass; sheet metal; gravel; and other permanent materials. Because of the reflectivity of its elements, Face C/Z will shimmer and appear to change in color. By using pyrite, also known as “fool’s gold”, the piece speaks to the history of California’s Gold Rush and ever-changing economy.

4th and Brannan Surface Station

A kinetic sculpture, Microscopic, will be installed at the surface station

A kinetic sculpture, Microscopic, will be installed at the surface station

The surface station at 4th and Brannan Street will feature a dynamic, kinetic sculpture, Microscopic. Designed by Moto Ohtake, this piece will measure at 14 feet by 17 feet and will be installed on the upper portion of the 40 foot marquee pole on the platform. Thirty one rotating points will allow the sculpture to interact with different wind conditions, creating various visual patterns depending on the direction and fluctuation of wind patterns.

For more information about the Public Art Program, check out the San Francisco Arts Commission website.








Categories: Community News

Central Subway Update on KTVU News

Community News - Wed, 03/16/2016 - 11:14

Central Subway Program Director John Funghi was interviewed by Fox KTVU News reporter Claudine Wong for Bay Area People. Check out the segment in the video below, following the BART and CalTrain reports.

For more information on the Central Subway Project, please see our website.


Categories: Community News

Skybridge Shined in Chinatown

Community News - Tue, 12/15/2015 - 17:09

During the summer of 2015, the Chinese Cultural Center (CCC) unveiled Sky Bridge, a dazzling piece of temporary art designed by artist Beili Lui.   This work transformed the pedestrian bridge located on Kearny Street between the Hilton Hotel and Portsmouth Square.

The Skybridge project was the final piece of the Chinese Cultural Center’s multiyear project, Central Subway, Journey to Chinatown.  This was a series of temporary art projects to celebrate the history of the Chinese culture in San Francisco as the first subway to Chinatown is built.   This series included art installations in Wentworth Alley and Walter U Lum Place as well as music and dance festivals.

The Skybridge was built with a team of volunteers and CCC staff, demonstrating true community spirit.  In one week, the CCC and its volunteers covered 50,000 bricks with Mylar (polyester film).  The labor was very intense due to extreme heat.  Different weather conditions gave the bridge changing looks from extremely bright due to the reflection of the sun to hues of blue and gray.

Categories: Community News

Featured Photos – December 3

Community News - Thu, 12/03/2015 - 16:32

Union Square Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director Karin Flood and Central Subway Program Director John Funghi kick-off the second annual Winter Walk. This pop-up open space, features entertainment, Off the Grid food trucks, and is located on Stockton Street between Geary and Ellis during the holiday moratorium.


The much-appreciated plaza features a nightly light show that is projected onto the Macy’s Men’s building, featuring San Francisco landmarks and holiday themed-images.


Shoppers, pedestrians, visitors and locals of all ages can enjoy the open space, festive decorations and special seating in the plaza through the first of January.


If you would like to see more photos of project construction, check out our Flickr, updated weekly!

Categories: Community News

Featured Photos – September 24

Community News - Thu, 09/24/2015 - 16:06

The Central Subway project was recognized at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Annual Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony on September 17 at the City Club of San Francisco.


Project Director John Funghi accepts the ASCE Transportation Project of the Year award on behalf of the Central Subway Project, a 1.7 mile-long extension of the Muni T Third Line.

John Funghi ASCE AwardThe ASCE accolade was given to the Central Subway project, named the Transportation Project of the Year for 2015. When open for revenue service in 2019, the Central Subway will connect the northern and southern part of the city.


Want to see more photos of project construction?  Check out our Flickr, updated weekly!

Categories: Community News

Featured Photos – August 27

Community News - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 12:36

The Central Subway Community Advisory Group (CAG) and community members learn more about the upcoming 4th & King trackway work. The meeting was held at the Creamery in SOMA.


Crews are preparing for the upcoming trackway work which will take place starting 10 p.m., Friday, September 4 through early morning, Tuesday, September 8. During construction there will be detours and traffic impacts around the construction zone.

Work to upgrade utilities is ongoing at the intersection of 4th and King.

Outreach is ongoing to inform customers, residents, merchants and motorists about the upcoming construction so that they can plan ahead.


Want to see more photos of project construction?  Check out our Flickr, updated weekly!

Categories: Community News

Featured Photos – August 13

Community News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 09:52

Upcoming Labor Day Weekend (10 p.m., Friday, September 4 to 5 a.m., Tuesday, September 8) work at 4th & King includes installation of transit signal priority equipment as well as track improvements for the future Central Subway extension of the T Third Line.


Traffic will be impacted due to construction as well as weekend activities. Motorists travelling on I-280 are advised to use the 6th Street on and off ramps.


A temporary platform is being built for N and T Muni Metro riders to disembark and/or transfer to connecting trains at 4th & Berry in order to complete trips to the southern neighborhoods of the city.


Want to see more photos of project construction?  Check out our Flickr, updated weekly!

Categories: Community News

Relocation of Bus Stop Near Future Chinatown Station Starting April 9

Community News - Mon, 04/06/2015 - 09:18
The new bus stop will be located on Stockton Street at Jackson Street.

The new bus stop will be located on Stockton Street at Jackson Street.

Due to upcoming construction activity, the bus stop for the southbound 8X/8AX/8BX Bayshore Express, 30 Stockton, 45 Union/Stockton, and 91 Owl routes on Stockton Street between Washington and Jackson streets will be relocated. The new bus stop location is on the northwest corner of Stockton and Jackson streets in front of Little Paradise.

Discontinued old bus stop on Stockton between Washington and Jackson streets.

Discontinued old bus stop on Stockton between Washington and Jackson streets.

The new bus stop will continue to service the following southbound routes:

  • 8X/8AX/8BX Bayshore Express
  • 30 Stockton
  • 45 Union/Stockton
  • 91 Owl

Service for these bus routes will remain as scheduled.


Categories: Community News

Relocation of 47 Van Ness and 83X Mid-Market Express Bus Stop

Community News - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 15:13


Due to the construction of the Central Subway, the 47 Van Ness and 83X Mid-Market Express bus stop on 4th Street between Bluxome and Townsend streets is being relocated to Townsend Street between 4th and 5th streets. The change is slated to take place on Friday, March 13.

bus_relocation2During the sewer upgrade work, drivers will be diverted to the outermost lanes of 4th Street, between Brannan and Townsend streets. The map to the right highlights the relocation of the bus stop. This bus stop is being relocated so buses will not impede the flow of southbound traffic.

For up-to-date construction related information and a ten day look ahead, check out our Construction Update posted to our blog on Fridays.


Categories: Community News

Improving Neighborhood Infrastructure

Community News - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 08:57

As the Central Subway Project builds four new stations, it also upgrades utilities along the alignment. A new water line and high pressure fire hydrant was completed recently across from the future Chinatown Station.

The new fire hydrant on Washington Street at Stockton Street.

The new fire hydrant on Washington Street at Stockton Street.

Also in the Chinatown neighborhood, Central Subway ambassadors increase safety by guiding pedestrians at intersections on Stockton and Washington streets adjacent to the construction site.

 1) Map indicating area of construction 2) Ambassador at Washington and Stockton streets 3) Site of the future Chinatown Station

Pictured clockwise: 1) Map indicating area of construction 2) Ambassador at Washington and Stockton streets 3) Site of the future Chinatown Station

Ambassadors help the public at the intersection of Stockton and Washington streets.

Ambassadors help the public at the intersection of Stockton and Washington streets.

Fridays we post the most up-to-date construction information.

Categories: Community News

Check-Out Winter Walk SF

Community News - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 16:33

On Dec. 3, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the Union Square Business Improvement District, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Central Subway officially kicked-off “Winter Walk SF” in Union Square – an open plaza for the public to enjoy. This festive, pedestrian-friendly holiday hub runs through January 1 on Stockton Street between Ellis Street and Geary Boulevard.

Mayor Lee welcomes the public to the holiday plaza and encourages people to shop locally.

Mayor Lee welcomes the public to the holiday plaza and encourages people to shop locally.


Holiday activities include: a nightly light art show, carolers, live music, food trucks and promotional incentives.

The public is encouraged to check out "Winter Walk SF" and it's nightly light art show.

The public is encouraged to check out “Winter Walk SF” and it’s nightly light art show.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Director Ed Reiskin lists ways to get around the city - public transportation, bike, on foot and by vehicle.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Director Ed Reiskin lists ways to get around the city – public transportation, bike, on foot and by vehicle.

More details and scheduled events can be found here.

Categories: Community News

Featured Photo: Ambassadors

Community News - Wed, 11/05/2014 - 08:45

The Central Subway Project started deploying ambassadors to assist pedestrians. This is part of a pilot program to help keep Sunday foot traffic moving in the heart of the downtown area.

An ambassador helps people cross at the intersection of Stockton and O'Farrell streets.

An ambassador assists people at the intersection of
Stockton and O’Farrell streets.

An ambassador helps pedestrians.

An ambassador gives directional help to pedestrians.

For updates on project advancements, sign up for our weekly construction update here or follow us on FacebookTwitterFlickr, or YouTube.

We thank the businesses, residents, shoppers, and commuters of San Francisco for their continued engagement with this significant investment in the extension of our public transportation system.

Categories: Community News

Central Subway provides backdrop for House Leader Nancy Pelosi

Community News - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 12:46
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Director Ed Reiskin, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee at future Yerba Buena/Moscone Station Site

Pictured from left to right: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Director Ed Reiskin, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

On August 12, House Minority Leader Pelosi was joined by Mayor Lee and SFMTA Director Reiskin near the future site of the Central Subway Yerba Buena/Moscone Station.

Each speaker emphasized the importance of investing in mass transit. It was also noted that by building infrastructure there is an investment in San Francisco’s future generation.

The Central Subway will significantly improve the public transportation network in San Francisco and provide connections to BART, Caltrain, Muni Metro, Muni bus routes, Muni cable car lines, and in the future, high-speed rail. The T-Line extension is expected to open in 2019.

House Minority Leader Pelosi

House Minority Leader Pelosi

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

Mayor Lee

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin

SFMTA Director Reiskin


Categories: Community News

Artist Tomie Arai discusses planned art installation for Chinatown Station

Community News - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 15:23
Tomie Arai

Tomie Arai

Artist Tomie Arai met with some of the San Francisco community on August 7 about her art installation for the future Central Subway Station in Chinatown. More than thirty people attended the event produced in conjunction with the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and hosted by the Chinese Culture Center (CCC). The presentation was done both in English and translated into Chinese by Cathie Lam of Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC).

Mary Chou (SFAC)

Abby Chin, curator and artistic director of CCC, welcomed the artist Tomie Arai and introduced the SFAC public art representative Mary Chou.

Ms. Chou (SFAC) described the comprehensive public art program and how it will reflect the rich cultural and historical contexts within this area (see Central Subway Arts Master Plan). As explained by Chou, the purpose of this gathering was for the artist to receive input from the community.

The location of this installation will be a wrap around the outside top entrance of the station and two platform level pieces.

Arai's work will be at locations #1 (outside wraparound), #3a (platform level), and #3b (platform level).

Arai’s work will be at locations #1 (outside wraparound), #3a (platform level), and #3b (platform level).

The public informs the artist about their preferences for the station artwork.

Arai took the group through a series of slides that represented some of her previous art work. Much of her work has dealt with cultural identities. Her work tends to highlight and celebrate a community’s shared history. Arai’s goal is to tell a story about San Francisco’s Chinatown and her concept for her installation is “Urban Archeology.” Her vision for this art piece is to represent both the past and the present of the Chinatown community. A commemorative group photo of this important gathering can be seen below.

      Some of the community members with the artist Tomie Arai.

Categories: Community News

Beneath the Pagoda Palace, foundations of San Francisco’s history

Community News - Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:15


Father John Takahashi and Central Subway Program Director John Funghi stand beside concrete blocks that once formed the foundation of a historic North Beach church.

Earlier this month, construction crews demolishing the Pagoda Palace unearthed a long-lost piece of San Francisco history: the foundations of a church that stood on these grounds more than a century ago.

The Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, now located at 1520 Green Street, once stood in North Beach at the corner of Powell Street and Columbus Avenue. Built in 1888, the dramatic onion-domed structure was completely destroyed by the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. All that remained were five bronze bells – and they survived because they were off site at the time, being repaired. The church relocated to the Green Street location soon after, opening in 1909.

Last week a concrete block from the old church’s foundations joined the bells at the Green Street cathedral. After construction crews unearthed the foundations, we contacted Father John Takahashi, the senior priest of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, to inform him of our discovery. We also invited him to visit the construction site and see the newly uncovered relics of his church’s past.


The Holy Trinity Cathedral on Powell Street, circa 1890.

Once on site, Father John spoke with Central Subway Program Director John Funghi, and the Central Subway team gave Father John a block of concrete from the old foundations. The block will now live in the garden of the Green Street cathedral.

Central Subway crews discovered the historic foundations while dismantling the thick concrete slab that formed the base of the Pagoda Palace Theatre. Once the slab was removed, the outlines of the foundation revealed themselves amidst dirt and rubble.

Archeologists and construction personnel examined the unearthed foundations and concluded that they were consistent with building practices in the late 19th century. The absence of rebar, the consistency of the concrete and the size of the aggregate in it helped support this conclusion.

With a piece of the old church now safely preserved, crews then broke apart what remained of the foundations to make room for the next phase of Central Subway construction, and the next chapter in the life of this storied North Beach site.

Categories: Community News

Mayor Lee visits tunnel launch site, meets tunneling machine Mom Chung

Community News - Fri, 05/10/2013 - 14:05


San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee takes a look at tunnel boring machine Mom Chung in the excavation under 4th Street where tunneling will begin.

Yesterday, Mayor Edwin M. Lee paid a visit to the construction site where tunneling will begin and saw Mom Chung, the 350-foot-long tunnel boring machine currently being assembled underground.

Speaking to reporters in front of the digging cutter head of Mom Chung, Mayor Lee said he was excited about the Central Subway, calling the T Third Line extension “one of the most important projects for the future of San Francisco.”

SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan, SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin, Central Subway Program Director John Funghi, key city officials and members of Central Subway team accompanied Mayor Lee under 4th Street to show him the major excavation where tunneling will begin. Check out the photos below for more on the Mayor’s visit to this important construction site.


The tour group heads down the ramp near 4th and Bryant and into the excavation beneath the roadway.


The tour group makes its way through the excavation and toward Mom Chung. From left to right: Director Reiskin, Mayor Lee, John Funghi, tunnel contract Resident Engineer Sarah Wilson.


Sarah Wilson, the engineer overseeing construction of the Central Subway tunnels, explains the details of the tunneling process to Mayor Lee. From left to right: SFPUC Assistant General Manager Emilio Cruz, SFPUC General Manager Harlan Kelly, Jr., Mayor Lee, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Steve Kawa, John Funghi, Sarah Wilson.


Mayor Lee responds to questions from reporters. From left to right: Director Reiskin, Chairman Nolan, Mayor Lee, John Funghi, SFMTA Board Vice Chairman Cheryl Brinkman, Sarah Wilson.


The tour group gathers around the front of Mom Chung. Called the cutter head, this spinning excavator will dig through the earth under 4th Street, Stockton Street and Columbus Avenue.


Representatives of tunnel construction contractor Barnard Impregilo Healy meet Mayor Lee and Director Reiskin. From left to right: Assistant Project Superintendent Andy Granger, Mayor Lee, Project Manager Ben Campbell, Director Reiskin.

Read more about the Mayor’s visit in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. Tunneling is slated to begin in June.

Categories: Community News

Check it out: Our spring 2013 project newsletter

Community News - Tue, 04/02/2013 - 12:15


The Central Subway team helped welcome the Year of the Snake at the Chinese New Year Parade & Festival in Chinatown.

Hot off the presses: It’s the spring 2013 edition of the Central Subway newsletter. Download it in English or Chinese to read about the latest project news and to gain insight into construction progress, funding milestones and more.

In addition to the print version, you can view the online version of our newsletter here.

To subscribe to receive the e-newsletter via email, fill out this form and check the “Quarterly Project Newsletter” box. You can also subscribe to our weekly construction updates and to receive neighborhood-specific project information.

This edition of the quarterly project newsletter features:

Thank you for your continued interest in the Central Subway Project.

Categories: Community News

Questions about construction in North Beach? Check out these FAQs.

Community News - Tue, 03/19/2013 - 14:11

The Central Subway tunnels will end here, at the Pagoda Palace in North Beach, under a plan to relocate the retrieval site for the project’s tunnel boring machines.

In response to community concerns about Central Subway construction in North Beach, SFMTA staff and multiple city agencies have worked for the past few months to relocate the retrieval site of the project’s tunnel boring machines (TBMs) from Columbus Avenue to the Pagoda Palace (1731-1741 Powell Street).

As we complete the administrative steps required to finalize the site change, we would like to clarify the details of the plan and respond to questions that have been raised about it. These FAQs, posted on our website, include information about the Pagoda Palace construction plan, construction impacts, the reasoning behind the change and the community’s involvement in the process.

In addition, we have prepared a memo for the SFMTA Board and our partner agencies that describes our construction plan, the lease terms for the Pagoda site, and our process in pursuing the change. You can read the memo online here.

Should you have any further questions about the Pagoda Palace plan, don’t hesitate to contact our team at or 415-701-4371. Thank you for your continued participation as we work to improve public transit in San Francisco.

Categories: Community News

Introducing Big Alma and Mom Chung, the Central Subway’s tunnel boring machines

Community News - Thu, 03/07/2013 - 13:42


Mom Chung, shown here, will construct the tunnel for southbound trains. More photos of both TBMs are available on our Flickr page. (Photo courtesy of The Robbins Company)

We are excited to introduce Big Alma and Mom Chung, the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will excavate and construct the Central Subway tunnels. Named Big Alma, after “Big Alma” de Bretteville Spreckels, and Mom Chung, after Dr. Margaret “Mom” Chung, the machines will begin tunneling later this year, starting in SoMa and heading north under 4th Street and Stockton Street through Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach. A press release about the TBMs is available online here.

The first of the machines, Mom Chung, is expected to arrive in San Francisco in April. The 300-foot-long machine will be assembled within an excavation on 4th Street between Harrison and Bryant streets and will start building the tunnel for southbound trains about two months later. Big Alma will arrive soon after Mom Chung to construct the northbound tunnel.

As tunneling proceeds, updates about the TBMs, including photos of the machines and the tunnels, will be posted on Twitter at the usernames @BigAlmatheTBM and @MomChungtheTBM. You can learn more about them on our website, at

A IMG_7664 PS

The front of the TBM, called the cutter head, spins as it excavates. In this photo Mom Chung is being tested before being disassembled for transport to San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Barnard Impregilo Healy)

The names were selected by the public in an online poll held in January. Participants could select up to two names, one for each TBM. Of the 1,453 responses, Big Alma was the top vote-getter at 682 votes. Mom Chung took second place with 487 votes, closely followed by Firebelle Lil (451 votes), Mary Ellen (437 votes) and Juana (148 votes).

In tunneling tradition, the custom of naming TBMs is believed to bring good luck to tunneling projects. The names will remain in official use by the SFMTA and the tunneling contractor throughout the duration of the project.

“Big Alma and Mom Chung will construct San Francisco’s first new subway tunnel in decades, bringing together neighborhoods of our city that have long been in need of improved public transit,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin. “We are happy to have included the public in this exciting part of tunneling tradition. We thank everyone who voted for contributing to this important project.”


Big Alma, shown here, is still being assembled. She will arrive in San Francisco after Mom Chung to construct the northbound tunnel.

Each TBM consists of a rotating cutter wheel (the cutter head), a cylindrical steel shell (the shield) and a 300-foot train of tunnel-building mechanisms (the trailing gear). The TBMs will arrive in several parts, to be assembled at the site on 4th Street between Harrison and Bryant streets where tunneling will begin.

About the Winning Names:

“Big Alma” de Bretteville Spreckels (1881-1968): Known as “Big Alma” (she was 6 feet tall) and “The Great-Grandmother of San Francisco,” Alma de Bretteville Spreckels was a wealthy socialite and philanthropist who, among her many accomplishments, persuaded her first husband, sugar magnate Adolph B. Spreckels, to fund the design and construction of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor at Land’s End in San Francisco.  A model in her youth, Spreckels was the inspiration for the “Victory” statue atop the Dewey Monument in the center of Union Square.

Dr. Margaret “Mom” Chung (1889-1959) was the country’s first female Chinese-American physician, practicing in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown. During World War II she “adopted” more than a thousand “sons,” most of them American servicemen, mentoring them, sending them presents and sharing meals with them during and after the war. She was also one of the earliest supporters of women in the Navy. When one of her “sons” became a congressman, he filed the first legislation to create a female branch of the Navy in response to a phone call from “Mom Chung.”

Categories: Community News


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