Central Subway has a funding shortfall and a growing number of critics, but its supporters are as committed as ever
"There's no reason to wait 10 years for a subway," Cauthen said. "Because it is not going to do what it says it will do."
Cauthen explained that the route for the Central Subway misses the most important lines anyway, which would be "serving Chinatown poorly." Cauthen was not alone in his concern that the three-stop subway system will prove to be more of a hassle than a convenience.
But in a committee meeting held Nov. 16 at City Hall, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (which oversees capital expenditures, while the SFMTA runs Muni) addressed the issue that the city in fact does not have all the money it needs to complete this project. While federal officials have already handed over $72 million out of $948 million, getting the rest of that federal money requires the city and its affected agencies to come up with local matching funds of between $137 million to $225 million.
Malcolm Yeung, public policy manager for the Chinatown Community Development Center, explained that based on the recent hearing, the SFMTA needs to find a viable source for the remaining $137 million. It has until February to inform the Federal Transportation Administration how it will obtain the rest of this money. The SFCTA meeting was an attempt to request an allocation of about $22 million in Proposition K (sales tax) funds.
Now that the city is having trouble meeting its fiscal goal by February 2011, the new question is, if city officials don't come up with the money, will San Francisco lose the project and its funding?
"I don't think it means that we lose the whole project," Yeung said, but there could be delays. And every time there is a delay, there is also an associated cost to be paid.
According to SFMTA, the project received $948.2 million in federal money, $375 million from the state, and $255.1 million in local contributions. Norris explained that since the federal money was given for this specific New Starts program, then it can only be used for this project. And if the project comes to a halt, the money will go somewhere else. "People don't realize that $948 million is part of the New Starts program," Norris said. "If we don't get it, we actually lose it."
Fong, Chiu, and other supporters of the project rallied in its support outside City Hall on Nov. 15. As Fong told us, "[People against the project] don't appreciate the hard work, that it takes a decade to get the federal funds ... It cannot be simply shifted or "redirected" as some have said."
For Fong, ending this project would be "disregarding two decades of hard work." Although the ideas to improve Muni seem fair to Fong, moving forward with the subway is the only option for him right now.
*This article has been corrected from an original version.