The announcement the SF MTA received $9.9 million in grant funding this week to support ongoing preliminary engineering and design work for the controversial Central Subway project has inspired a lot of smart and contemplative coverage that we admire. Really!

But, we’re so tired from our recession-forced all-ramen diet we can’t get our heads around these numbers the way our esteemed colleagues at Streetsblog and Transbay Blog can. In an effort to comprehend the magnitude of money (no enviously gritted teeth as we look around the apartment for shit to sell so to buy coffee and get rid of this caffeine headache. None!) going into this project, here are some fun facts (feel free to check our math in the comments, this is the one time we won’t bitch about being corrected):

— If you were to compare the total expected cost of the Central Subway ($1.57 billion) to the total land area of San Francisco (47 sq mi.), the $9.9 million grant they announced yesterday would amount to a piece of land about the size of Fort Mason.

— To cover for the entire expected cost of the Central Subway, Oprah would have to work for 5 and a half years (but to cover the grant announced yesterday she’d only have to work about 2 weeks)

— If one had to pay off the expected costs of the Central Subway with the proceeds of any one major motion picture, you’d either have to go with Titanic (which, as the top-grossing film of all time, made $1.8 billion) and have some change left over for a Central Subway pizza party, or cut out about 400 mill from the plans to pay it off with Lord of the Rings (grossing 1.2 billion)

— If the Chronicle is truly losing a million dollars a week, as has been repeated again and again, they lose as much as yesterday’s announced grant in about 2 and a half months. And staying on the Chronicle tip, instead of entering into their recent 15 year contract for those new printing presses, if Hearst had just left that money in a duffel bag in front of MTA spokesperson Judson True’s house we’d probably never hear from Judson again, after Judson turned it in they’d only have to come up with $570 million more.

Thanks, Matty!

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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