The Central Subway plan never made sense to me and my North Beach neighbors.
The last station on the new subway line was in Chinatown, blocks away from North Beach. But the plan was to tunnel into North Beach and tear up Columbus Avenue, just to remove the gigantic tunnel boring machine at Washington Square Park.
North Beach merchants and residents were irate. Many feared the construction would put them out of business. Neighbors didn’t want to put up with years of disruption or the loss of restaurants, shops and cafes. They protested, they filed a lawsuit, but nothing seemed to alter the terrible subway plan.
We’ve been inconvenienced for months already. Columbus Avenue near Washington Square Park was ripped up to relocate utilities in preparation for the tunnel. It’s dirty and noisy work. Closed lanes created a traffic nightmare. Oh no, will it be like this for years to come?
Maybe not. The chief of San Francisco’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) just announced 2 new alternative Central Subway plans that seem to address North Beach concerns.
The first gathering momentum here in the Village, is to build a North Beach subway station where the long abandoned Pagoda Theater now stands on the corner of Powell and Columbus, across from Washington Square. If local money can’t be found to buy and clear the land, the MTA will leave the monster tunnel boring machine underground, just beyond the Chinatown station.
In either event, no more of Columbus Avenue will be torn up. If we get lucky, North Beach will get a subway station built in a less disruptive way. Sometimes local action can make a difference. Let’s see what happens at next week’s MTA meeting where the new plans will be introduced.