Salesforce Transit Center’s inspection missed flaws that led to cracked beams

Salesforce Transit Center’s inspection missed flaws that led to cracked beams

Source:, March 20, 2019
By: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • After a March 14 meeting of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Executive Director Mark Zabaneh told reporters that two cracked beams, which led to the ongoing shutdown of the $2.2 billion Salesforce Transit Center, were the result of a “failure of quality control in the construction process,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Four layers of inspections conducted by steel fabricator Herrick, steel installer Skanska, general contractor Webcor-Obayashi and the authority’s quality-assurance contractor Turner Construction failed to detect that the grinding necessary to prevent cracking of steel members had not been carried out, Zabaneh said. The grinding of welding access holes prior to welding would have eliminated the small cracks that led to larger fissures in the two steel beams, according to an authority consultant.
  • Zabaneh said that this quality control failure led to the review of “tens of thousands” of construction and inspection documents to make sure that no other major flaws had gone undetected. About 85% of the records had been examined as of March 14 and no additional problems with the structure had been found.

Dive Insight:

The repairs, which should be underway soon pending arrival of the steel plates necessary to make the approved fix, are not scheduled for completion until June, but the authority has not identified a reopening date in case there are any other measures needed after the existing construction has been reviewed in full.

The authority was dealt a different kind of blow in February when newly elected California Gov. Gavin Newsom pulled the plug on the California High-Speed Rail project, at least beyond the $15 billion to $16 billion Central Valley segment now under construction. This puts the authority’s plans for a $6 billion Caltrain station as a high-speed rail hub in jeopardy, as officials were counting on some funding earmarks for high-speed rail among its state and federal financing sources. The authority has not counted out financing the entire project, however, so that it can meet its goal of connecting Santa Clara to downtown San Francisco.

As for the bullet train, even the scaled-back version could come up at least $1 billion to $3 billion short, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Costs could escalate if the authority has underestimated the cost to electrify tracks and if the approximately 200 outstanding eminent domain actions take longer than expected, among other project unknowns.

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