The Powell Street BART station has always been a stark human contrast between upscale, touristy shoppers and panhandling squalor, so BART has embarked on a glorious five-year plan to remodel the station with all manner of lovely new amenities. But a report in today’s San Francisco Chronicle shows that five year plan has now turned into a six-and-a-half year plan, with more delays likely on the horizon.
“We might rename it Murphy’s Station, because it seems that everything that could go wrong with these projects has gone wrong,” BART Director Bevan Dufty tells the Chronicle, in an apparent reference to Murphy’s Law. “Things often move slowly, and there are usually reasons.”
The Powell Street Station revamp is the largest component of BART’s downtown station renovation project, a $30 million set of upgrades that intends to replace ceilings, fare gates, ticket machines, and add some lovely new domed ceiling and artistic work. The Chronicle’s Matier and Ross also report that “the plan even calls for the reopening, on a pilot basis, of long-closed public restrooms — this time a unisex version — that have been shuttered since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”
If I had to guess why the Powell Street BART bathrooms are never open, the Sept. 11 attacks would not have been among my top guesses.
But the Powell Street BART Station upgrade has been beset by a series of delays. BART themselves had to rewrite their original $7.3 million bid to remove asbestos and install ceiling panels, as the plan was riddled with errors. Then the winning bidder was unable to comply with BART regulations, and had to be replaced with another contractor to install the sprinklers.
Now the original ceiling panel component is delayed again, as BART is contemplating adding an overhaul of the Powell Street Station’s public address system to the project. So at this point, there is no timeline for completion of the station’s overhaul.
The most exciting part of these upgrades is that BART is vowing to replace all the (often broken) escalators at Powell Street, as well as each of the 41 escalators at every BART stop between Embarcadero and Civic Center. But that $164 million project seems likely to be affected by the systemwide delays that characterize BART renovations.