SAN FRAN­CISCO’S ‘GRAND CEN­TRAL’

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Travel - By Lorin Eleni Gill As­so­ci­ated Press

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Span­ning three city blocks, San Fran­cisco’s $2 bil­lion tran­sit ter­mi­nal is open af­ter nearly a decade un­der con­struc­tion.

Coined the “Grand Cen­tral of the West,” the new Sales­force Tran­sit Cen­ter near the heart of down­town is ex­pected to ac­com­mo­date 100,000 pas­sen­gers each week­day, and up to 45 mil­lion peo­ple a year. It wel­comed its first pas­sen­gers and vis­i­tors this month.

En­veloped in wavy white sheets of metal veil, the five-level cen­ter in­cludes a bus deck, a tow­er­ing sky-lit cen­tral en­trance hall and a rooftop park with an out­door am­phithe­ater.

The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle re­ported that the com­plex faced de­lays in putting out con­tracts to bid, and the win­ning bids were ul­ti­mately higher than ex­pected. The ter­mi­nal’s cost rose from $1.6 bil­lion at its 2010 ground­break­ing to more than $2 bil­lion in 2016 be­cause of what one an­a­lyst called “op­ti­mistic as­sump­tions,” ac­cord­ing to the Chron­i­cle.

The project, a com­mand­ing pres­ence in the city’s South of Mar­ket neigh­bor­hood, is fi­nanced by land sales, fed­eral stim­u­lus grants, district fees and taxes, bridge tolls, and fed­eral and state funds.

On a re­cent week­day, the rooftop park was flooded with lo­cals and tourists who were en­joy­ing the sunny weather for pic­nics.

“I think it’ll be like the High Line in New York,” said Lissa Gould, 65, who likened the new park to New York’s 1.5 mile (2.4 kilo­me­ter) green­belt that was built on a de­funct el­e­vated rail­road line. Gould at­tended the San Fran­cisco ter­mi­nal’s Aug. 12 grand open­ing cel­e­bra­tion and re­turned the fol­low­ing week with her two nieces.

“It’s great for the work­ers and peo­ple down­town who will be able to come down here, and there’s free ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren, too,” she said.

Oth­ers her­ald the ter­mi­nal as the Amer­i­can West’s “Grand Cen­tral,” a ref­er­ence to New York City’s world-fa­mous Grand Cen­tral The new San Fran­cisco Trans­bay Tran­sit Cen­ter cost $2.2 bil­lion and took nearly 10 years to build. It opened ear­lier this month.

Ter­mi­nal opened in 1913. That train sta­tion ac­com­mo­dates 750,000 vis­i­tors daily and has been fea­tured in nu­mer­ous well­known movies.

Yet to be com­pleted at San Fran­cisco’s cen­ter are restau­rants,

re­tail shops and a gon­dola. There also are plans for a three-plat­form train sta­tion un­der­ground and even­tu­ally, con­nec­tions to a high­speed rail line un­der con­struc­tion in Cal­i­for­nia’s Cen­tral Val­ley.

San Fran­cisco na­tive Cle­mente Casas, 82, en­joyed a walk with his wife through the out­door gar­dens. He said the cen­ter was a wel­come re­place­ment for the

1930s-era Trans­bay Ter­mi­nal that was de­mol­ished in 2010.

“It’s fab­u­lous, and it’s long over­due,” he said. “It’s a great tourist at­trac­tion.”

A new bus bridge pro­vides di­rect ac­cess from the tran­sit cen­ter to the Bay Bridge, which Casas said he hopes will re­duce traf­fic con­ges­tion.

Fabi­ana Ed­mundo was im­pressed by the el­e­vated park, which fea­tures open grass ar­eas with por­ta­ble chairs, a play­ground, kiosks with board games and art sup­plies, and books for chil­dren and adults. The

34-year-old mother of four runs a child­care com­pany and said she’d be back soon with more kids.

The on­line busi­ness soft­ware com­pany Sales­force, which opened its ad­ja­cent 61-story Sales­force Tower three months ago, bought nam­ing rights to the cen­ter in 2017 as part of a 25-year,

$110 mil­lion spon­sor­ship agree­ment.

LORIN ELENI GILL/AP

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