csub.jpgLocal and federal officials are set to make a major funding announcement for San Francisco’s Central Subway project today, one day after a group opposing the project filed a lawsuit seeking to halt construction.

The group SaveMuni.com filed the suit Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court against the $1.6 billion project, which would create a new branch of San Francisco Municipal Railway’s T-Third line connecting the South of Market neighborhood to Chinatown.

The group argues that Muni’s plans to build a station at Union Square violates a section of the city charter that states that a structure on park property cannot “be built, maintained or used for non-recreational purposes, unless approved by a vote of the electors.”

Howard Wong, a founding member of SaveMuni.com, said, “the Central Subway, like any project, has been obtaining its approvals dutifully but they missed this one.”

The lawsuit comes as federal officials including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jackie Speier are expected to join Mayor Ed Lee and others this afternoon to announce funding for the project.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose this morning said his agency “hasn’t yet reviewed the lawsuit.”

Rose said, “The project has moved forward in accordance with all laws and will enhance our public transportation system, significantly improve mobility for thousands and help alleviate congestion.”

A separate lawsuit was filed in July by the group Save North Beach. That suit argued that construction to retrieve tunnel-boring machines in North Beach was more expansive than what was previously approved.

The project was also sharply criticized in a report last year by San Francisco’s civil grand jury that said the subway’s design was inefficient and too costly for its proposed benefits.

The subway, scheduled to open in 2019, would extend 1.7 miles from Fourth and Brannan streets to Chinatown. Updates on the project can be found at www.centralsubwaysf.com.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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