The first pour of concrete into the foundation of the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco was done Thursday by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Jane Kim.
The new transit center, stretching across four blocks in the city's South of Market neighborhood, is set to open in late 2017 and will connect 11 transit systems, including the proposed high-speed rail line from Southern California.
Pelosi and others called the center "the new Grand Central Station of the West" and she said it was an example of smart growth in the region.
"We are literally laying the foundation for the future of transit-oriented development in the Bay Area," she said.
Mayor Lee said the center will be "a critical anchor for economic development and jobs," saying there will eventually be 27,000 permanent jobs created by the transit hub.
Construction on the project began in August 2010 and included the demolition of the old Transbay Terminal and excavation more than 100 feet into the ground in preparation for the new center.
Michael Theriault, secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco Building and Trades Council, said through the excavation work, crews have discovered items spanning "the strata of the city's history and pre-history," including a woolly mammoth tooth from at least 11,000 years ago.
Theriault said with the pouring of the concrete, "Today starts us back in the other direction, toward the future."
A total of 60,000 cubic yards of concrete -- about 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools -- has to be poured into the 5-foot thick foundation.