Nine months after its glorious debut, and eight months after its temporary, ignominious closing, Salesforce Transit Center and Park in San Francisco re-opens to the public today, Monday, July 1.
On September 25, 2018, workers discovered two cracked steel beams supporting the bus deck of the $2.2 billion project, which, along with the neighboring Salesforce Tower, dominates the skyline and alters the economic and cultural landscape of one the world’s great cities. Citing an “abundance of caution,” officials of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority closed the transit center and park, and empaneled a peer review committee of five nationally recognized experts in steel structure and fracture mechanics to examine the cause of the cracks and oversee the plan for the repair.
“The two brittle fractures were likely caused by a ‘perfect storm’ of three factors,” says Mike Engelhardt, chair of the review committee and a structural engineering professor at University of Texas-Austin. “An underlying weakness in the steel itself, stresses during fabrication and thermal cutting, and the strain from loads during service.”
After a painstaking six-month study of the million-plus-square-foot structure, engineers determined that the problem was confined to the two 80-foot steel beams supporting the bus deck over Fremont Street, which, according to Engelhardt, “moved barely an inch,” due to the fractures. The affected beams were reinforced by a sandwich of two massive steel plates, bolted to the girders by hundreds of steel bolts.
“We have undergone an exhaustive and independent review and are fully confident in the transit center,” Mark Zabaneh, executive director of the TJPA, said in a statement announcing the re-opening.
Replacing the original Transbay bus terminal that was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Salesforce Transit Center has been trumpeted as the Grand Central Station of the West. Stretching for four city blocks with four stories above ground and two stories below, the new transportation hub connects transit systems throughout the Bay Area.
It features an avant garde design by the architect firm Pelli Clarke Pelli that includes a dedicated steel-span bus bridge to the Bay Bridge, a gondola to transport pedestrians to the station, an LED art installation, and a “Column of Light” sculpture inside the Grand Concourse entry hall.
Atop the structure stands a sumptuously landscaped 5.4-acre public park that has been compared to New York City’s famed High Line, and looming over it all is the 1,070-foot Salesforce Tower, San Francisco’s tallest skyscraper and the second-tallest building west of the Mississippi, which fans liken to an Egyptian obelisk and detractors to a giant steel sex toy.
In 2015, Marc Benioff, founder and head of the Salesforce empire, signed a $100 million, 25-year deal for naming rights to the transit center. The wisdom of that investment was called to question by the cracked-beam debacle, and has remained so during the STC’s ensuing eight-month closure. For now, only the park and entry hall have been reopened to the public, and only city buses stop at the terminal.
Later this summer, trans-bay buses will again arrive and depart, and in the years ahead, high-speed trains are planned to deliver commuters and visitors to the transit center’s rail platform on the bottom story of the structure. By then, Benioff, along with the taxpayers who have invested billions of dollars in this gleaming megaproject, hope that the two cracked beams will be long forgotten.
Read more: https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/a28249872/san-francisco-salesforce-transit-center-reopening/