Francisco officials struggled Wednesday to find the source of
unusual cracking in support beams that shut down a just-opened, $2
billion transit center meant to serve as a bold architectural
statement from a wealthy, high-tech city.
Salesforce Transit Center opened to great fanfare last month as an
embodiment of San Francisco’s reputation for innovation and
sustainability. Its rooftop park would provide green space for
people to socialize while commuters could take buses from the
multistory building that spans three city blocks.
the transit hub named for a cloud computing giant appears to be
the latest example of problems in a city brimming with
homelessness and poor infrastructure. The shutdown, which
officials say will last until the facility can be declared safe,
caused chaos during Tuesday’s evening rush hour.
in wavy white sheets of metal veil, the five-level center with a
towering sky-lit central entrance hall sits in the South of Market
neighborhood, where construction is booming. It’s adjacent to the
so-called sinking condominium, Millennium Tower, which has settled
about 18 inches (45 centimeters) since it opened over a former
landfill in 2009.
and construction experts say the transit center’s two cracked
beams are not tied to the condo woes, though some homeowners have
sued the developer and city alleging construction of the transit
facility caused the Millennium Tower to sink.
installing roof tiles Tuesday morning found the first crack, about
2½ feet long and 4 inches deep, on a steel beam holding up the
transit center’s rooftop park. A second, smaller crack was found
later that day on a parallel beam.
other similar beams do not show signs of cracking, said Mark
Zabaneh, executive director of Transbay Joint Powers Authority,
which operates the transit hub.
said their first priority is to shore up the beams so the facility
can reopen while engineers search for a permanent fix. He said he
expects the center to remain closed at least through the end of
working hard to rectify the situation,” Zabaneh said. “We’re very
disappointed with what happened; we will get to the bottom of
said the steel came from Stockton-based Herrick Corp. The beams
looked fine when they were installed in January 2016. The problem
could be in the fabrication, installation or design of the beams,
experts say it’s exceedingly rare for steel girders that support
buildings to crack.
David Friedman said it’s likely the beams arrived without cracks
but that once the weight of the roof garden and other structures
were added, “new stresses may have exacerbated the possible
beams likely passed inspection after installation, engineer Joe
that’s the case, it’s likely welding caused the problem,” he said.
London Breed said in a statement that the building’s role in the
broader transportation system was too important “not to act
quickly to have definitive answers for the public, and someone
needs to be held accountable once the cause is determined.”
have been rerouted to a temporary transit center about two blocks
away that was used during the center’s construction. A downtown
street that runs under the beam also was ordered closed
indefinitely, causing a commuting nightmare.
Cheng, who lives in the neighborhood, burst out laughing when
asked about the cracking.
find it disappointing but also kind of amusing because they built
this really big, they spent a lot of money,” said Cheng, 32. “I
feel like the money should have been used for a lot of other
don’t know. Maybe this is a sign,” she said.
this year, San Francisco’s transit agency disclosed that a
contractor had installed about 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the wrong
grade of rail for its new $1.6 billion subway spur. Several
problem trains and buses marred a City Hall celebration of transit
transit terminal, coined the “Grand Central of the West,” opened
after nearly a decade under construction. It is expected to
accommodate 100,000 passengers each weekday and up to 45 million
people a year.
towering condo buildings have gone up in the booming South of
Market neighborhood and several multistory construction projects
are underway. Officials voted in 2012 to scrap building-height
restrictions to encourage growth near the transit hub as San
Francisco looks to lure technology companies from Silicon Valley.
which opened its adjacent 61-story Salesforce Tower earlier this
year, bought naming rights to the transit center in 2017 as part
of a 25-year, $110 million sponsorship agreement.