CENTRAL SUBWAY TUNNEL BORING MACHINES (TBMs) & NORTH BEACH
Feel free to write Supervisor David Chiu and his staffer Judson True.
1. Thank them for agreeing to answer Paul Foley’s 1-28-13 questions BELOW.
At the 1-22-13 Community Meeting, the fire alarm ended questions & answers.
2. Ask for another Community Meeting to see TBMs final plans and to ask questions.
People seem to be learning details from the news, like Matier & Ross’ 1-30-13 article:
EXTRACT TBMs IN CHINATOWN OR BURY TBMs
It is illogical for the Central Subway to spend $80 million for a northern tunnel extension and Pagoda Theater costs to get $4 million in TBM salvage value. Instead, per the original plans in 2005+, the TBMs can be extracted or buried in Chinatown, saving $80 million, reducing construction liabilities and eliminating all disruptions to northern Chinatown and North Beach. Other subway projects bury TBMs.
BRISBANE: Subway project is burying two TBMs.
Time Lapse Burial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i4DSvRoKQc
CHUNNEL: “What happened to the boring machines used to build the Chunnel”
NEW YORK CITY’s new subway construction is leaving TBMs in the ground for cost-savings.
Regards, Howard Wong, AIA, www.SaveMuni.com
See correspondence with Supervisor Chiu
To: Paul Foley
Subject: RE: Central Subway
Thanks, Paul. I will work to get answers back to you shortly, hopefully by later this week. All my best,
To: Chiu, David; True, Judson
Subject: Central Subway
Dear Mr. Chiu,
As an intelligent person, who claims to care about the residents and business owners of North Beach and one who undoubtedly is concerned about the financial stability of SF, you have to be troubled by what you observed at the Central Subway meeting on 1/22/13.
Herewith are my observations of the topics that were covered and those that should have been covered at the meeting:
The Decision to Tunnel to North Beach
When asked why Muni is extending the tunneling to North Beach instead of terminating construction activity in Chinatown, Mr. Funghi indicated that the various options were analyzed in the 2006 to 2008 timeframe and that a report was produced that showed the continuation to North Beach to be the most cost effective and the least disruptive of the various options. He claims that the MTA board, based on the study’s findings, selected what is known as option 3B with the North Beach Tunnel Variant as the locally preferred alternative.
The EIR for the project describes the option of retrieving the machine cutting heads by crane through a shaft on the Hogan & Vest property in Chinatown and it also describes recovery of the tail sections of the machines by pulling them in reverse to the entry portal on 4th Street (EIR page 6-26). In addition, the EIR has a 16-line paragraph, which appears to be an afterthought, that mentions the idea of extending the tunnels to North Beach for extraction of the machines and for potentially delivering materials to the Chinatown station from North Beach (EIR page 10-16).
It should be noted that the EIR is devoid of any analysis as to the pros or cons of the various options. There is no discussion or comparison of the time and/or the cost involved in each alternative and there is no mention of the relative impacts to the neighborhoods involved.
If, as Mr. Funghi claims, a study or analysis does exist that justifies tunneling to North Beach, it has yet to be shared with the public. SaveMuni has submitted a number of FOIA/Sunshine requests to Muni asking that the report be produced, but no such report has been produced to date.
Retrieval of the Machines in Chinatown
Mr. Funghi stated that removing the cutting heads in Chinatown was found to be unacceptable because of the depth of the machines at the Hogan & Vest site. His verbatim statement on 1/22/13 was as follows:
“So the question of the Chinatown Station – that was looked at in 2006
and the reason why it did not receive the votes necessary to advance it into
design was the fact that the machines at that point were fairly deep, quite a
bit deeper than North Beach. And so taking this machine and then bringing
it to surface at a deep point is both costly and quite disruptive to the
community. And so as a consequence of that, just the engineering – the
physics of it, prompted back in 2006 the alternative of drilling, of extending
the tunnel, into North Beach.”
As stated above, the EIR describes the option (with respect to Alternatives 2, 3A and 3B) of removing the cutting heads by crane at the Chinatown Station site and there is no indication that the depth would present any problems or obstacles. The EIR’s treatment of machine removal in Chinatown is as follows:
“All construction activities for the alternative would be conducted from the
off-street shaft. The off-street portion of the station access/head house shaft would
be partially decked over and used as a staging area. A crane would be required for
station and shaft excavation and construction. Temporary (one to two weeks) use
of a higher capacity crane would be required to hoist the TBMs if they are
retrieved through the Chinatown access shaft.” (EIR pages 10-38 to 10-39)
In addition, it should be noted that Mr. Funghi’s claim defies logic in that the crane needed for removal of the machines, at either the Hogan & Vest or the Pagoda site, would have to have the same boom length and the same lifting capacity. Furthermore, it appears that when Mr. Funghi refers to “disruption” to a community he is only referring to Chinatown!
Burial of the Machines in Chinatown
Mr. Funghi stated that burying the cutting heads in Chinatown was determined to be unacceptable because they would have to be entombed in concrete and, as such, they would virtually preclude future extensions of the subway line.
This completely ignores the fact, which was raised by a number of people in attendance at the meeting, that boring machines are frequently entombed on subway projects and they are routinely placed in out-of-the-way locations if future line extensions are contemplated.
It is inconceivable to me that John Funghi, a registered engineer entrusted with the management of a $1.6 billion construction project, is not aware of this simple alternative for dealing with boring machines at the conclusion of a subway project!
The Decision to Pursue the Pagoda Option
Mr. Reiskin and Mr. Funghi stated that they are pursuing the Pagoda option because that appeared to be the clear favorite of the folks in North Beach. They indicated that the perceived overwhelming support for the option, as demonstrated by a show of hands at the December meeting, caused them to seek and receive the approval of the SFMTA board to proceed with that option.
I think you could tell from the adverse reaction to those statements by the attendees at the meeting that the Pagoda option is not their favored approach and there is great anger that the Chinatown options are not being pursued. In truth, the Pagoda option is favored over the mid-Columbus alternative, but there is near unanimous support among the interested folks in North Beach that Muni should deal with the boring machines in Chinatown, thus sparing their neighborhood from any disruption until the city has obtained the environmental clearances and the funding required to extend service to North Beach and beyond.
As you know, the fire alarm was activated before all the questions had been asked at the meeting in question. In addition, according to my notes, these questions were asked but were not answered:
(1) Where is the report, that Muni claims to have, that found that extending the tunneling to North Beach was the least disruptive and the most cost effective method for dealing with the boring machines?
(2) What are the costs associated with the various options for dealing with the boring machines?
(3) What are the time requirements of the various options?
(4) Why is the Pagoda site any better than the Hogan & Vest site for removal of the cutting heads by crane?
(5) Why can’t the tails of the machines be towed in reverse from Chinatown and removed through the 4th Street portal?
(6) Why can’t the cutting heads be entombed in concrete in Chinatown at a location that will not obstruct tunneling to North Beach and beyond in the future?
(7) Would there be any opposition to having the Budget Analyst look at the costs involved of the various options?
(8) What is the cost of each boring machine and what is the residual value of each of its 2 main components (the cutting head and the tail) after the tunneling is complete?
(9) Doesn’t the fact that the city is reviving the Pagoda owner’s expired permits, and allowing him to proceed with the construction of commercial space and housing, preclude use of the site as a subway station in the future?
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The decision to tunnel to North Beach is a clear attempt to circumvent the letter and the spirit of CEQA and NEPA law. Mr. Reiskin stated that the shaft in North Beach will only be used for retrieval of the machines, ie. it will not be used for equipment storage, delivery of materials to Chinatown, etc. Since the machines can be dealt with effectively (by retrieval or burial) and at a significant cost savings in Chinatown, it is clear that the sole reason to tunnel to North Beach is to complete a majority of Phase 3 construction with Phase 2 approvals, in order to strengthen the argument, and to facilitate the procurement of the funds necessary, for the future extension of revenue service to North Beach. Calling the tunneling to North Beach “Phase 2 construction” doesn’t make it so; the fact that it may assist or be compatible with Phase 2 doesn’t negate the fact that it is in fact a significant percentage of Phase 3 construction.
It is obvious that the city is poised to spend at least $80 million unnecessarily on its ludicrous insistence on continuing the tunneling to North Beach. This extension, that received a mere 16 lines of mention in the EIR, will entail the construction of more that three quarters of a mile of permanent tunneling (twin 2,000’ tunnels), the construction of a huge concrete extraction shaft in North Beach that is anticipated to take 6 months to complete, the removal and the trucking of the thousands of cubic yards of soil that will be displaced by the 4,000’ of tunneling, the cost of shoring the properties adjacent to the Pagoda property and the cost of demolishing the Pagoda theatre. Since I have it on good authority that the resale value of each boring machine is approximately $2.2 million, it appears that Muni is proposing to spend at least $80 million on its tunneling to North Beach in order to save $4.4 million. This represents a serious and significant misuse of public funds and telling us that this is the least costly and the least disruptive of the options available is an outrageous insult to our intelligence!
Due to the fact that the fire alarm was activated in the middle of an attendee’s question at the 1/22/13 meeting and due to the fact that a significant number of questions that were asked were not answered, I urge you to schedule another meeting in North Beach before the city proceeds with getting approvals of the Pagoda option from the various agencies and individuals involved. I further urge you to inform the Muni participants to come to the next meeting prepared to address the issues raised above and that they be directed to produce the study, which they claim was conducted in the 2006 to 2008 timeframe, that allegedly shows tunneling to North Beach to be the most cost effective and the least disruptive of the various options for dealing with the boring machines.
I applaud your efforts in forcing Muni to at least meet with the folks in North Beach, but more must be done. The extension of the tunneling to North Beach, for a mere one to two week retrieval of the boring machines, is not only a waste of scare transit dollars, it has pitted North Beach against Chinatown and has caused a number of folks to resort to use of the race card with claims that the powers in Chinatown have manipulated the staging and the phasing of the project in order to reap the transit benefits of the subway, while the construction related burdens are borne by the residents and businesses of North Beach.
I hope that you see the merit in these suggestions and that you will urge the Muni personnel to comply. I further hope that you will attend and that you will answer the lady’s question as to whether you will agree to have the Budget Analyst review the various options for dealing with the machines before any final decisions are made.
Very truly yours,
ps: Mr. Reiskin is quoted in the Examiner on 1/24/13 as being concerned (a “daunting challenge”) about being able to convince the public to support a bond measure to finance the TEP. He is quoted as saying “We don’t have the confidence of the public today that we can spend and execute this money in an efficient manner.” Let me assure you and Mr. Reiskin, that if Muni proceeds with the extension of the Central Subway tunneling to North Beach without demonstrating good and justified reasons therefor, we at SaveMuni will do everything in our power to apprise the public of Muni’s conduct in this regard when the bond measure is placed on the ballot.