muni_generic.jpgAs the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency awaits final approval of federal funding for the Central Subway project, one of the communities that will be most impacted by the light-rail extension held a briefing to reaffirm its support of the project.

Transportation planners and Chinatown community members sat side by side this morning to discuss the benefits the project is expected to bring to the community as well as the impacts it is expected to have as tunneling work gets underway in the near future.

The $1.578 billion project will create a new branch of the San Francisco Municipal Railway’s T-Third line. It is designed to run north along Fourth Street from Brannan Street and will have underground stops at Moscone Center, Union Square and Chinatown.

“This project should not be stopped; it cannot be stopped,” said Anni Chung, a community representative and advocate for the city’s elderly population. “It is a promise that has to be kept.”

The subway was proposed to reconnect the city’s northeast corner to the rest of the city after the seismically unsound Embarcadero Freeway was demolished, cutting a vital tie between Chinatown and the freeways.

The briefing comes one day after the SFMTA submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration seeking final approval of $942 million in federal grants provided by the FTA’s New Starts program.

The project has already received nearly $96 million in federal funding, including $20 million secured from the FTA in June.

Once the SFMTA secures the funding, the largest contract for the project–the $233.6 million tunneling contract awarded in June–can move forward.

About 50 people–including 10 seniors–from 19 families will be displaced by construction of the line’s three stations, according to Cindy Wu, the community planning manager with the Chinatown Community Development Center. Half of those families have already relocated, Wu said.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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