SF Muni Seeks Prop 1A Funds for Central Subway
San Francisco Muni’s Central Subway project is scheduled to begin tunneling next year, extending the T-Third light rail line north to Market and Chinatown under 4th Street and Stockton Street. It would serve the 4th and King station, and that why Muni is hoping they can tap into Prop 1A funds for the project, if 4th and King is used as a high speed rail station:
Muni’s hopes to use state Proposition 1A funding to fill that hole were quashed when Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the expenditure last year. Prop. 1A allots state dollars to local transit projects providing connectivity to California’s still-mostly hypothetical high-speed rail system. Brown, however, denied Muni’s grant application because a direct connection between the rail system and the proposed Central Subway was notably absent in the California High Speed Rail Authority’s business plan.
Earlier this month, Muni appealed to the state once more, submitting a revised grant proposal in hopes of landing that $61 million. In doing so, Muni requests connectivity dollars — even if conventional definitions of connectivity aren’t precisely met. “So long as Fourth and King remains open as an interim or permanent HSR station,” the Muni proposal claims, the Central Subway will offer a direct connection.
Of course, the $61 million question is, will Fourth and King become a stop for high-speed trains? The California High Speed Rail Authority’s revised business plan states that high-speed trains on the Caltrain corridor will only serve the stop “if necessary.” Although the agency says that it does not expect to use the station, if demand or ridership increases by 2050, Fourth and King would serve as an overflow stop.
If Muni can’t convince Governor Brown that the Central Subway deserves Prop 1A funds, then Muni will have to borrow money for it. The debt service funds will then have to come out of Muni’s existing budget.
Governor Brown has in the past vetoed requests for the $950 million in Prop 1A funds marked for “connecting” rail service as part of his effort to instead promote the development of a statewide rail plan. Muni will have to make a convincing case to the governor that the Central Subway fits into that vision. They didn’t succeed in the past, and given that their current argument hinges on 4th and King, I’m not so sure they’ll succeed now.