Kill Beale

Transbay Transit Center, rendering courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Turns out the vociferous opponents to a Beale Street station in San Francisco had it right. The California High Speed Rail Authority voted last week not to build an underground station at Beale Street to serve as the northern endpoint of the state’s future high-speed rail line. Instead, the bullet train will make its final stop in the Transbay Terminal that is already slated to be built in downtown San Francisco.

The Beale Street station plan had met with months of protest by San Franciscans, including a strongly worded petition from South Beach residents last year. Among their complaints: The Beale Street option would have required the demolition of several residential high-rises; its construction would have endangered the base of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge; it would have cost over $1 billion to acquire the right-of-way; it was being pushed for political reasons by unidentified special interests; and it flouted the wishes of San Franciscans, who voted in 2008 for Proposition 1A, which specified the Transbay Terminal as the endpoint of the high-speed line.

The California High Speed Rail Authority was convinced, voting 6-1 last Thursday in favor of Transbay over Beale. The $4 billion Transbay terminal is being designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, who published some dramatic renderings in 2007 showing a rooftop park, retail street, and attached skyscraper. A gamble in 2009 paid off when the team revised their plans and won a $170 million loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, speeding up California’s high-speed dreams.

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