Customers and merchants on those two blocks — which include the Apple Store, Ghirardelli Chocolate and Louis Vuitton — can thank a holiday moratorium on construction before Thanksgiving until shortly after the new year that has been part of city policy for years.
“This is to ensure that businesses can remain open and fully participate in the holiday shopping season,” said Paul Rose, a spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
One lane of Ellis Street between Stockton Street and the Ellis-O’Farrell Garage at 123 O’Farrell St. will remain closed for work on the subway tunnels during the moratorium.
The two bustling downtown blocks have been closed since July 2012 in order to move utility infrastructure from beneath the streets to beneath the sidewalks.
When the two-block section closes again in January, crews will resume ground stabilization work around the tunnels and station construction, mostly underground.
A tunnel-boring machine nicknamed Mom Chung began mining 24/7 on Wednesday and will cross under Stockton Street to Union Square by Monday, a “milestone” for the subway project, according to Program Director John Funghi.
When the entire project is complete, the T-Third Street light-rail line will cross from South of Market on Fourth Street past Union Square — which will have a new station in addition to the BART and Muni station already at Stockton and Ellis streets — to Chinatown. Service is set to begin in 2019.