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Maria Ayerdi Kaplan, Salesforce Transit Center Developer, On Phase 1 And California High Speed Rail

Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, Developer Of Salesforce Transit Center: Part Eight Of Her Story as told to Zennie62Media. Part One > Part Two > Part Three > Part Four > Part Five > Part Six > Part Seven > Part Eight.

This is the final part of a series that Maria Ayerdi Kaplan prepared with Zennie Abraham, Founder of Zennie62Media. The objective was to set the record straight on the development of the Salesforce Transit Center, and combat misinformation that has been reported, to date. Zennie62Media will develop new content based on this series and update the content, where needed.

Maria Ayerdi Kaplan inspecting Salesforce Transit Center
Maria Ayerdi Kaplan inspecting Salesforce Transit Center

Here is Maria Ayerdi Kaplan and Salesforce Transit Center Part Eight.

Before Maria Ayerdi Kaplan left, she managed and completed all the risky and complex construction elements of the new Salesforce Transit Center, including the installation of the shoring wall, the excavation of 4 city blocks, the installation of the micro-piles, the drilling of the 182 buttress shafts, the geothermal piping, the underground utility upgrades, the pouring of all the concrete and installation of 25,000 tons of structural steel, the building of over a mile of the ramp and the start all the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work.

Ms. Ayerdi’s leadership of the construction efforts with a near perfect safety record is impressive.

What remained to be finished with the Transit Center after her departure were the interior finishes, windows, and park landscaping. Regarding the interior finishes, Maria was pleased that the quality was maintained with respect to the finishes the public will see such as the columns, doors, windows, walls, ceilings, etc. She always insisted that quality along with safety were paramount concerns.

Kaplan was also pleased that, as she had requested before she left, the transit operating agencies that are going to use the new Transit Center in Phase 1 will help fund future operations and maintenance costs.

Moreover, Maria was also pleased the negotiations she initiated with Salesforce to buy the naming rights for the new Center were completed. The Salesforce Transit Center will need all the committed funds possible to maintain a safe and clean facility for the public in the event that the economics do not work out on the retail activities in any given year.

However, Kaplan was not happy regarding reports on what was said to be the cracking of the rooftop park walkway, telling Zennie62Media “Before I left, I consistently directed the architects and contractors to secure quality materials for the New Center that would have a long life span for the number of visitors that were expected with the appropriate warranties. I never approved recycled whatever it is they ended up using for the park pavement. I am sure they were looking to cut costs after I left. Now look what is happening – the park pavement is cracking.”

Salesforce Transit Center, Dr. Maya Angelou, and San Francisco

However, had it been entirely up to Ms. Ayerdi and had there been a public source of funding to cover all of the operations and maintenance costs of the new Center, she would have named the Center after Dr. Maya Angelou. As Maria has always said, there are to this day very few women leaders in the transportation, development and construction business and even less have been honored for their achievements.

Dr. Maya Angelou not only broke barriers working as San Francisco’s first female black street car conductor, she also empowered women in countless other ways.

On Caltrain and California High-Speed Rail in the Salesforce Transit Center

Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan believes that her almost two decades of work building the new Center and stimulating the surrounding construction boom created a powerful constituency able to accelerate the rail extension. Once the full promise of the bus and rail operations are underway at the new Center, the nearby national developers and investors will gain even more so in both economic vitality and prestige. If they band together now and exercise their political clout to insist that the local and regional public entities abandon their “rail” studies so that the final design and construction of the rail extension into the Center can proceed, things will begin to happen.

It is critical that the rail extension is built as soon as possible. The longer the project is delayed, the higher its ultimate cost. Completing the established and increasingly popular 78-mile Caltrain line between Salesforce Transit Center and Gilroy will attract tens of thousands of additional daily riders to Caltrain and (eventually) to the high-speed trains. Because of the large number of Peninsula commuters who drive into San Francisco every day and the increasing traffic congestion in evidence today on the highways and streets leading into downtown San Francisco, getting the rail up and running in the Transit Center is more important now than ever.

Right now, Salesforce Transit Center has a four-city block two level (450,000 sf) underground train box that was built and paid for to be used specifically for trains that is sitting empty for the foreseeable future.

Nineteen years have passed since San Franciscans voted in 1999 for the extension of Caltrain under Proposition H. The first Federal grant allocated to help build the Transbay Transit Center/Downtown Extension Project (TTC/DTX) arrived over 19 years ago.

The longer the extension of Caltrain is delayed, the more the huge train terminal with no trains will come to be regarded as a betrayal of the public trust, an improper use of State and Federal funds provided specifically for the express purpose of creating a major Northern California rail and bus Center, and a waste of public dollars.

If, as some in San Francisco have suggested, the facility were indeed to be converted into a “hi-end retail center”, the betrayal of public trust would become even more obvious. (Maria said she deferred all of the fire/life/safety occupancy features in the train box to Phase 2, so it would be cost prohibitive for a tenant to pay for that as part of the fit out for any kind of retail occupancy in the train box. This way the train levels stood a chance of someday accommodating rail instead of some other use).

The public funding the Transbay Joint Powers Authority received throughout the last two decades for the Transit Center was allocated with the express understanding and promise that the new station would accommodate buses and rail. The size of the station, the length of the platforms, the radii of the curvature of the rail tracks, and all the engineering elements of the new Center were put in place to accommodate not just buses but commuter and inter-city rail as well.

Public tax dollars that funded the new Center were never intended for a “bus” and “shopping mall” only facility but for an intermodal transit hub that accommodated commuter and long-distance trains as well as buses. By the time Ms. Ayerdi left, she had secured the environmental approvals and the majority of the funding for the rail extension and was ready to issue the bid to finish the engineering and start construction.

Had the collective San Francisco civic desire to proceed with the rail extension into the new Transit Center been present and had the mandate of Proposition H and the will of San Francisco voters been honored, the Caltrain Downtown Extension would now be well under construction.

Stay tuned.

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