Transbay's Nationwide Impact
The Transbay Transit Center has created more than 6,000 construction jobs coast to coast (not to mention all the jobs it created for people who make hardhats and steel-toed boots)—and that number continues to rise by the day. Transbay Joint Powers Authority exec director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan let us in on some other groundbreaking updates on the project.
As of May 29, 2,984 people were working away across 16 US states on the project. (The federally funded project requires materials be made and bought in America. Start a "USA!" chant right now as you read this, your office will love it!) Onsite, 3,145 jobs have been created since the demo of the old Transbay Terminal. The number of boots on the ground popping up across the US, each playing a small part in forging the Grand Central of the West, is expected to rise. The biggest clump is at Nucor in Cofield, NC, with 569 jobs created to supply steel plates. Another biggie is Pottstown, Pa.’s Chapel Steel, with more than 500 new jobs. Maria reminds us these are solely construction jobs; that doesn’t count designers, legal, or financial workers tied to the project.
Maria's especially excited about the center's 5.4-acre park, which will have an amphitheater for movies, concerts, community events, and plays, as well as dining options. Environmental artist Ned Kahn (check out his public commission down at Yahoo's HQ) is creating art out of water, with a bus shape that will rise out of the fountain to announce bus arrivals. (Just don't get confused and try to ride in the water bus, unless you're Aquaman.) Want your name splashed on Transbay's park? You might have your chance: Her staff is in the process of considering putting out a call for naming rights for a philanthropic sponsor to contribute and ensure the park opens in line with the terminal in late 2017. Vegetation will include cactus, flora, and fauna native to California. She hopes the park will become a real oasis where people can take a stroll, read and have lunch. (She's walked New York's High Line linear park many times for inspiration.)
What's a typical day like for Maria? Making sure everything is moving on schedule and putting her John Hancock on stacks of documents. There are 35 construction contract bids being put out this year all the way through early April 2015 to ensure an on-time station delivery. She's also in constant communication with stakeholders and funding partners to make sure money keeps flowing in. Public outreach is also key when you’re affecting five city blocks in the middle of downtown. Last week she went to Stanford with some of Transbay’s engineers to talk to an engineering class about the process of the project. And she was invited by a Transbay intern to deliver the commencement at her high school graduation this year.
She’s traveled far and wide to get inspired by different transit systems. It’s helped her put the puzzle together, from the early days to selecting an architect to building the station. She’s using Grand Central and Union Station as models. She also plans to take advantage of natural windflow. Lighting is an important piece she’s paying attention to. A lot of old facilities don’t have a lot of lights at the rail level, and she wants to brighten up Transbay's platforms during Phase 2. (Now our moms will get off our case about trying to read in the dark.) For that high-speed rail piece, she’s traveled abroad to look at systems in China, Japan, Germany, Spain, and England.