Salesforce Transit Center: San Fransisco’s $2.2 Billion Cracks

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Salesforce Transit Center: San Fransisco’s $2.2 Billion Cracks (popularmechanics.com)






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BeauHD

from the perfect-storm dept.

Slashdot readers jimminy_cricket and Thelasko share a report from Popular Mechanics about how San Francisco’s Salesforce Transit Center went from the Grand Central of the West to a $2.2 billion construction debacle. Here’s an excerpt from the report: Built at a cost of $2.2 billion, the Salesforce Transit Center and Park formed the cornerstone of the Bay Area’s ambitious regional transportation plan: a vast, clean, efficient web of trains, buses, and streetcars, running through a hub acclaimed as the Grand Central Station of the West. Naming this structure — the embodiment of a transformative idea — could yield marketing gold for Salesforce. It also could make [Marc Benioff, founder and co-CEO of Salesforce] a household name on the level of Bezos, Gates, or Zuckerberg. Benioff took the gamble in 2017, pledging $110 million over 25 years, with $9.1 million up front and the rest committed to supporting operations when the trains started running. For now, the train box sat vacant on the bottom level, awaiting a 1.3-mile tunnel connection. […] As he took the stage on his birthday at the Moscone Center, Marc Benioff must have been confident his gamble on naming rights had paid off. He couldn’t imagine that at that moment, less than a mile away, the ambassadors trained to welcome the public to the STC were now frantically waving commuters away. Rather than Grand Central Station or the High Line, the Salesforce Transit Center and Park suddenly resembled the Titanic.

Earlier that day, workers installing panels in the STC’s ceiling beneath the rooftop park uncovered a jagged crack in a steel beam supporting the park and bus deck. “Out of an abundance of caution,” officials said, they closed the transit center, rerouting buses to a temporary terminal. Inspectors were summoned. They found a similar fracture in a second beam. Structural steel is exceptionally strong, but given certain conditions — low temperatures, defects incurred during fabrication, heavy-load stress — it remains vulnerable to cracking. Two types of cracks occur in steel: ductile fractures, which occur after the steel has yielded and deformed, and brittle fractures, which generally happen before the steel yields. Ductile fractures develop over time, as the steel stretches during use, explains Michael Engelhardt, Ph.D., a professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the peer-review committee overseeing the STC’s response to the cracked-beam crisis. The cracks discovered beneath the rooftop park were classic brittle fractures. The tapered 4-inch-thick steel beams — 2.5 feet wide and 60 feet long, with a horizontal flange on the bottom — undergirded the 5.4-acre park on the building’s fourth level, and buttressed the roof of the bus deck on the second level. By themselves, the cracks formed a point of weakness with potentially hazardous consequences. But they also suggested the possibility of a larger crisis. If two brittle fractures had appeared in the building’s 23,000 tons of structural steel, couldn’t there be others?


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