TRANSBAY TRANSIT CENTER GROUNDBREAKING – ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

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Nat Ford, Executive Director of the SF Municipal Transportation Authority,
and US Dept. of Transportation Ray LaHood

Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2010

“I judge an event by how many people show up and how many media show up,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told the crowd gathered at the old Transbay Terminal at First and Mission. “This is a big deal today in San Francisco, I can tell you that. This is huge.”

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Former Mayor Willie Brown, State senator John Burton, Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, Executive Director of the Transbay Joint Power Authority, Congressman George Miller, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, Senator Barbara Boxer, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, Chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority, Nat Ford, Director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, and David Crane, Advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

It must have been a big deal. Everyone except Governor Schwarzenegger showed up. Mayor Newsom came from City Hall up the street. From Anaheim came Mayor Curt Pringle who is the chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority, hopes that someday to make the trip from Anaheim by train in just a few hours. Former Mayor Brown arrived late just as Mayor Newsom had predicted in his remarks, when he acknowledged former Mayor Brown. Elected and appointed officials from all levels of government were in attendance.

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Bimla Rhinehart, Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission
with Commissioners John Chalker and Joe Tavaglione
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

A recurring theme of the day was the work that the California Congressional delegation did to see that the federal stimulus bill passed with the follow up needed to assure that the Transbay Transit Center was funded. Secretary LaHood attributed the funding to the fact that California had its act together.

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It was a standing room only crowd at the groundbreaking for the Transbay Transit Center that has the capacity to become the first high speed rail terminal
in the United States
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

It is a big deal because as Mayor Newsom pointed out, “History will write that High-Speed Rail and a new engine for job creation and economic growth in California began today, with the groundbreaking of this project. It is a culmination of decades of planning to fulfill our City’s vision of leading the nation as a transit first city and a hub of a modern High-Speed Rail system.”

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Speaker Pelosi directing some of her remarks to DOT Secretary LaHood
seated next to Mayor Newsom. Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan looks on
and SF Board of Supervisors President Chiu is seated
in the second row above her
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

“Today in breaking ground on the Transbay Transit Center we are opening a new chapter in that history of progress,” said Speaker Pelosi. “We are coming together to create jobs and revitalize our economy, and we are laying the the first building blocks of a new ‘Grand Central Station of the west.’”

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Mayor Brown and Newsom, John Burton, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Boxer DOT Secretary LaHood, Mayor Pringle, Nat Ford. On stage to the right of the podium is Board of Supervisor President David Chiu and Supervisors Maxwell and Daly. The woman with the file folder is Caltrans Director Cindy McKim
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

The reason that this is a big deal for me is that I’ve gone to several of these events were federal stimulus money is being used to fund projects. I overheard Nat Ford telling DOT Secretary LaHood that they would be giving him a tour of other projects later in the day. There are real people getting real jobs because of this, yet that somehow isn’t getting through in the media. The Golden Gate Bridge was built at a time of economic hardship as was the Bay Bridge. I have no doubt that 50 years from now (even though I don’t expect to be around to see it) people will see this Transit Center as a tipping point, because if the vision is fulfilled we will have created a neighborhood and a transportation link with those near and far.

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Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan shakes hand with Speaker Pelosi
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

So this event was a “big deal” in my mind because once again San Francisco finds itself in the lead with creative and innovative ideas.

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I like San Francisco on its own terms
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2010

See Related: ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist. Bill embraced photojournalism at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SFist, SFAppeal. Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past six years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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