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Central Subway completion delayed due to fire

Central Subway construction seen from across the street on Fourth at Folsom streets on Wednesday, August 17, 2016, in San Francisco, Calif. City transportation and planning officials look at where the city's next subways should be built. (Photo By Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

A recent fire is expected to delay the completion of SFMTA’s Central Subway project by six to eight weeks, the agency’s Board of Directors said at a meeting on Tuesday. 

A faulty surge arrester sparked a fire inside a circuit breaker cubicle at the planned Yerba Buena/Moscone station on Jun. 20, said SFMTA’s chief financial officer, Jonathan Rewers, at the meeting. Three cubicles need to be replaced, delaying the project completion by several weeks. 

Asked for a new expected date of service, SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato did not provide any specific dates but said the agency is “still planning for revenue service this fall.” In a December 2021 blog post, the agency wrote that the Central Subway would begin service in October 2022.

The long-planned subway, which will connect Chinatown to the 4th and King Caltrain station once finished, has seen multiple delays and ballooning costs since the project first broke ground in February 2010. 

In January, a monitor working for the federal government noted several issues with the Central Subway construction that posed a risk of delays, including water leakage and an incomplete signal network.

Rewers said at the Tuesday meeting that the agency is filing costs associated with the fire as part of an insurance claim, and that the Yerba Buena/Moscone substation will “tentatively” be back online by Aug. 31.

Garrett Leahy contributed to this report.

Annie Gaus can be reached at