San Francisco, We Have a Problem

Cracked Beam Closes New Salesforce Transit Center

The main hall of the new transit center, now closed. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick
The main hall of the new transit center, now closed. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick

It took eight years to build and cost $2.26 billion. It finally opened last month.

And now it’s broken.

From an AC Transit release put out last night:

…a fissure has been discovered in a steel beam of the Salesforce Transit Center. The steel beam is located in the ceiling of the third level Bus Deck, on the eastern side, of the Transit Center near Fremont Street. Out of an abundance of caution, the TJPA has closed the Salesforce Transit Center until further notice.

Apparently the crack was discovered as workers were doing finishing work on the building. Streetsblog emailed a structural engineer who specializes in such failures. “It’s rare for there to just be one crack,” wrote the engineer, who commented on condition of anonymity. “They’re going to find more. Steel doesn’t crack for no reason.”

[UPDATE 9/27 They found more.]

Should they close the terminal?

Yes,” replied the engineer, at least until they can figure out exactly what happened and how to fix it.

Police guarded Fremont Street under the Transit Center, now closed after a cracked beam was discovered
Police guarded Fremont Street under the Transit Center, now closed after a cracked beam was discovered in the Terminal, which passes overhead

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s John King interviewed Joe Maffei of Maffei Structural Engineering in San Francisco, who also made it clear that a structural beam simply should not crack. “Two possible culprits are a fabrication problem — something went wrong when the beam was manufactured — or the beam is supporting more weight than it’s designed to bear,” he told the Chronicle.

AC Transit buses back at the familiar "Temporary" Transbay facility. And how temporary will it be now?
AC Transit buses back at the familiar “Temporary” Transbay facility. And how temporary will it be now?

Meanwhile, AC Transit buses, as seen above, have returned to the street-level Temporary Transit Center at Howard & Beale Streets, along with other agencies that use the center, including Muni and Golden Gate Transit.

Streetsblog took AC Transit in this morning and, certainly, the ride is longer without the dedicated ramp available into the Salesforce terminal and the slog through street-level traffic. However, the majority of the delay getting to downtown was still just getting across the bridge itself. Bus operators and passengers have had eight years to get used to the temporary center, and didn’t seem to have any trouble returning to their old routine.

An aerial view of the rooftop park of Transbay. Pic: Transbay Joint Powers Authority
An aerial view of the rooftop park of Transbay. Pic: Transbay Joint Powers Authority

Do you take a Transbay bus as part of your commute? How much was it impacted by the closure? And what do you make of the unfortunate discovery. Post below.

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