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SFMTA Documents Requirement Of High-Grade Rail For Central Subway

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- New details surfaced Friday in a blame game playing out behind the scenes of one of San Francisco's biggest infrastructure projects: the Central Subway.

In reports that became public on Thursday, city officials were blaming a subway builder for using miles of the wrong tracks.

They say the incorrect grade of steel was used on the new Central Subway tracks running from 4th and King to Chinatown.

KPIX 5 has obtained new emails and documents from the SFMTA that indicate the contractor was in the wrong.

"The documents will show that the process to procure the rail started in about 2014, when the contractor submitted proposals," said SFMTA Spokesperson Paul Rose.

The five years worth of emails and documents show the SFMTA disagreeing with the contractors proposed rail specifications.

"We rejected their first proposal for the standard rail," said Rose.

But while SFMTA said it rejected that standard rail purchase order contractors went ahead and bought nearly $1 million worth of it.

Emails between the two parties show the company disagreed with the city's reading of the original contract language for what kind of steel was required where.

And while the city did sign off the standard rail purchase, they say that was done just to keep the project moving with the insistence that high-strength rail ultimately get used.

"And we did accept that they could move forward with the rail installment, on the condition that they purchase high-grade rail," explained Rose.

When KPIX 5 asked if SFMTA officials ever approved the installation of the regular steel, Rose replied,

"No. This project specifically called for high-grade rail and there were no modifications to change that fact."

KPIX 5 again reached out to Tutor Perini Friday for comment on the documentation SFMTA officials provided, but received no response. The most recent email received from them blames this on "SFMTA's misinterpretation of the contract."

In the past, similar disputes between Tutor and the city have dragged on for years. The disagreement over the Central Subway steel may be on the same track.

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