The San Francisco Municipal Railway’s critics are nothing if not dogged, and some self-appointed Muni watchdogs are persistent in their insistence that the Central Subway project — the $1.6 billion, 1.4-mile long link between the CalTrain station and Chinatown — be abandoned in light of the beleaguered transit agency’s ongoing fiscal crisis.

To those who wish the Central Subway project dead, alas — ceremonial ground broke Tuesday (and the first phase of construction, relocation of electrical, telephone and water lines, has been underway for about a month). But some consolation may come via an unlikely source: Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the newly-minted chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (which decides where and how to spend $80 million in annual sales tax revenue, all dedicated to transit).

Central Subway supporters have repeated time and again that the bulk of the project’s cost are federal — over $1 billion has been pledged from the Federal Transportation Administration. The project certainly won’t happen if that money isn’t delivered — it’s been promised, pledged, but not delivered. As of now, the only money actually delivered to the project has been almost all local — $214 million of the $244 million the MTA has received has all been County Transportation Authority money, Mirkarimi told the Appeal.

“The foundational dollars are coming from the TA… I think that’s been lost in translation,” Mirkarimi said Tuesday after the ceremonial turning of dirt (neither Mirkarimi nor Board President David Chiu nor Mayor Gavin Newsom donning hard hats for the occasion).

That money also pays for other major infrastructure projects — the Doyle Drive rebuild and the eventual Bus Rapid Transit routes that will grace Geary Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue — at the same time Muni is asking for chunks of the same change to pay for Muni operations. MTA has asked for about $7 million to pay to renovate some of its buses.

So there you have it, folks — the project is happening, and thus far, you have paid for the majority of it.

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  • Akit

    We are not digging a tunnel, just a grave for Muni.

  • Akit

    We are not digging a tunnel, just a grave for Muni.

  • generic

    Care to lay odds that we’ll ever get to see a tunnel boring machine? Because those fuckers are awesome.

  • generic

    Care to lay odds that we’ll ever get to see a tunnel boring machine? Because those fuckers are awesome.

  • PhilD

    @generic
    Maybe we can borrow one of the dozens currently building world-class subway systems throughout China. I’m sure they’ll have one free in 10 years when they’re done burrowing hundreds of miles of new subway – it’ll be right about the time we’re ready to start building our new one-mile line, assuming we come up with enough billions.

  • PhilD

    @generic
    Maybe we can borrow one of the dozens currently building world-class subway systems throughout China. I’m sure they’ll have one free in 10 years when they’re done burrowing hundreds of miles of new subway – it’ll be right about the time we’re ready to start building our new one-mile line, assuming we come up with enough billions.

  • PhilD

    @Akit
    Comment of the… week at least!

  • PhilD

    @Akit
    Comment of the… week at least!

  • areallyniceguy

    It will take years for people to realize, but it will be a vital component to the Muni rail system. Until then, quit your whining and be grateful that some of your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent in your city.

  • areallyniceguy

    It will take years for people to realize, but it will be a vital component to the Muni rail system. Until then, quit your whining and be grateful that some of your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent in your city.

  • Greg Dewar

    This is what happens when a political promise made by a not very bright Mayor (Brown) starts, and ends with billions of pork for the Subway to Nowhere, which Nancy and the crowd can say “ooh looky pretty trains!”

    BTW, did you all know that Muni won’t be getting any more trains to service this line? They’ll have to yank them off the N, J, K L M and so on. And, no it is NOT GOING TO NORTH BEACH either. You all think those NIMBYs will allow a tunnel to be bored under the park and the church?

    Meanwhile, a BART extension down Geary would pay huge dividends for the system, but oh no we don’t do that. And then people wonder why people are pissed at government spending.

  • Greg Dewar

    This is what happens when a political promise made by a not very bright Mayor (Brown) starts, and ends with billions of pork for the Subway to Nowhere, which Nancy and the crowd can say “ooh looky pretty trains!”

    BTW, did you all know that Muni won’t be getting any more trains to service this line? They’ll have to yank them off the N, J, K L M and so on. And, no it is NOT GOING TO NORTH BEACH either. You all think those NIMBYs will allow a tunnel to be bored under the park and the church?

    Meanwhile, a BART extension down Geary would pay huge dividends for the system, but oh no we don’t do that. And then people wonder why people are pissed at government spending.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Greg, MUNI bought a bunch of trains for the Central Subway. This is covered in more detail in the Short Range Transit Plan. The problem is/was/and still is that the trains have not been reliable enough, and thus not enough have been available to meet the existing demand.

    Got a nice ride this evening as the two cars threatened to decouple in the middle of the subway.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Greg, MUNI bought a bunch of trains for the Central Subway. This is covered in more detail in the Short Range Transit Plan. The problem is/was/and still is that the trains have not been reliable enough, and thus not enough have been available to meet the existing demand.

    Got a nice ride this evening as the two cars threatened to decouple in the middle of the subway.