I've attended a lot of events since becoming Transportation Secretary. But, I don't know if I've ever seen as much excitement from a crowd as I did at yesterday's groundbreaking of the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco. And there are plenty of reasons to be excited.
I joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman George Miller, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, members of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, and about 500 other people to kick off construction on a project that will transform how Californians travel.
Now, the site I visited yesterday may not have looked like much--a boarded up bus facility in the center of an economically distressed neighborhood. But over the next several years, this area will be transformed into a modern transportation hub that connects eight Bay-area counties and eleven different transit systems across California.
It will soon be possible to get almost anywhere in the Golden State via public transit--by streetcar to Embarcadero, by Muni bus to Balboa Park, by BART up to Oakland, by Caltrain out to Silicon Valley, or by high speed rail to Southern California.
Yes, the Transit Center will become home to a major stop on the future high speed rail line that connects San Francisco with Los Angeles and San Diego. California received $2.3 billion in high speed rail funding through the Recovery Act, and $400 million of that will go toward building the train platforms at Transbay.
The Transit Center is part of a larger redevelopment effort that will breathe new life into the Bay Area and provide people with better transportation, housing, and employment options. It's a true embodiment of the livability principles I talk about so often.
The plan will create nearly 2,600 new homes (35% of which will be affordable), 3 million square feet of office and commercial space, and 100,000 square feet of retail space. It will also incorporate innovative green technologies, like a 5.4 acre rooftop park and a geothermal heating and cooling system.
These investments will help San Francisco thrive and compete in the 21st century. It will attract a new generation of hard-working families looking for clean, green, sustainable cities. It will provide new options for people that would prefer to take transit than sit in traffic, or speed down the track instead of waiting on the tarmac. And it will create tens of thousands of jobs in California--including 500 by the end of this year alone--as well as open up new economic opportunities for the region.
I'm a firm believer that smart transportation decisions can help us solve some of the biggest challenges facing us today, like urban gridlock, pollution, and inaccessibility. But, tackling these problems requires true vision--seeing a town or city not just for what it is, but what it could be. And there is certainly no shortage of vision on display at the Transbay Transit Center.