GROUNDBREAKING ceremonies were held in San Francisco on September 27 for Phase I of the city’s $500m 3rd Street Light Rail Project. This will extend the Muni Metro network by 8·7 km into the south-eastern suburbs. Mayor Willie Brown and Muni General Manager Michael Burns wielded the shovels at the site of a new LRV maintenance centre near 25th & Illinois streets. This is intended to relieve overcrowding at Muni’s cramped yard at San Jose and Geneva avenues (map RG 10.98 p636).

Under consideration for the past decade, the line will run from the existing terminus at Fourth & King to the Bayshore Caltrain station, with 19 stops. Due to be completed in 2004, it is expected to stimulate economic redevelopment along the corridor, including badly-needed housing. Services will be provided by extending the existing J-Church route beyond its current terminus at Embarcadero. Initial weekday ridership is expected to exceed 50000.

The second phase of the project envisages a 2·7 km extension northwards along 3rd Street from King Street to enter a new crosstown subway near Bryant Street. It would then run beneath Market Street and under Geary and Stockton streets to terminate at Clay Street. This extension is priced at $542m, but work is not expected to start until Phase I has been completed.