Transit Center District plan is released. The project’s scale is huge, but so is the public need it addresses. The new plan would transform the face of downtown San Francisco in ways it is difficult to imagine–especially for those that weren’t around for the heyday of the old Transbay terminal.

San Francisco TransBay Terminal Center Area Plan Released

By Zennie Abraham – San Francisco Chronicle, September 12, 2011

That the San Francisco TransBay Terminal Area Plan has been released, let alone that the new San Francisco TransBay Terminal is under construction (and forget for the moment Wednesday’s press conference) is just plain remarkable. As the video from the press conference will show, this is a huge project, and a much needed one.

When this blogger first saw plans for what this TransBay Center will be way back in 1995, I really never thought this was going to get off the ground. Then, the cost was estimated to be $2 billion, and now it’s $4 billion, and all of the building complex that was the historic Transbay Terminal is gone. A thing of San Francisco Bay Area history.

Its shocking, because I’ve used that complex so many times I forgot to count them.

For those who are new to the area, or just growing up to become aware of what’s happening, The Transbay Terminal was the place AC Transit Buses came over from the East Bay, and SamTrans buses came over from Marin County, bringing thousands of daily riders to work.

It was also the night place to be for nightclub goers (like myself), who stayed out until 2 or 4 AM, and left their cars at home. For decades, it was the Bay Area’s transit hub, and a place to get a Greyhound bus to other parts of the country (something I did once, and for the 2003 Super Bowl in San Diego).

Then, the BART Train Tube connecting Oakland and San Francisco opened in 1976, and suddenly the Transit Center wasn’t the hub it used to be. Commuter traffic lessened dramatically, and the facility fell into a state of disrepair, and in some places within it, squalor.

Eventually, the terminal became a place you didn’t want to be at night. It was a haven for the crime-prone and the homeless, with people sleeping in corners, or in bathrooms, when they were open. The once popular bar and blues club there eventually closed. Something had to be done, but for a long time, until the 90s, it seemed like there was little political will to do anything about its condition.

That’s why I never thought this project would get off the ground, and especially at the scale that it’s turned out to be.

I don’t think anyone has any idea how much this new TransBay Transit Center is going to transform San Francisco’s Downtown area. The sheer size of it creates a new town in town. The scale of the main building: six stories tall, and four football fields long, is such that it will be the new downtown mall: the place where teenagers will hang out, and in droves.

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