Salesforce Transit Center closes due to cracked support beam

Salesforce Transit Center is indefinitely closed due to a cracked support beam, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority announced Tuesday.

All transit operators will temporarily provide bus service out of the nearby Temporary Transbay Terminal at Howard and Main streets until all inspections are complete.

At an evening news conference, Mark Zabaneh, executive director of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, said the beam was discovered by workers installing ceiling panels at around 10 a.m. Tuesday and that the discovery was not part of a routine inspection. The damaged beam was last inspected about one year ago.

"Crews today discovered a fissure in one of the steel beams in the ceiling of the third level Bus Deck on the eastern side of the Salesforce Transit Center near Fremont Street," an earlier statement by the TJPA read.

San Francisco Police Department spokeswoman Grace Gatpandan said just before 5 p.m. the east wing of the Transit Center was being evacuated. The 6-foot-tall beam, said to be made of American steel, was "unpredictable" Zabaneh said.

Zabaneh said it was in everyone's best interest to move transit operations back to the Temporary Transbay Terminal until inspections were complete. It was not clear if the public would be able to access any portions of the building until further notice.

"The safety of everyone who visits the Salesforce Transit Center is our obligation and highest priority," the TJPA statement read. "While this appears to be a localized issue and we have no information that suggests it is widespread, it is our duty to confirm this before we allow public access to the facility."

Earlier, SFPD confirmed they were alerted of possible evacuations near the brand new Transit Center located at 425 Mission Street.

KTVU learned of the potential structural issue involving the cracked beam at the Terminal as officials were waiting on a decision by building engineers on whether or not to shut the building down.

Watch footage from Skyfox above the scene and the TJPA news conference

The San Francisco Chronicle reported officials were scrambling Tuesday to determine the severity of the crack and how that would impact their decision.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Muni is rerouting buses. Fremont between Howard and Mission streets are closed. AC Transit said all 27 lines that serve the terminal are being diverted to the old temporary terminal. The evacuation happened at the height of the evening commute. Many commuters were diverted to the old Temporary Transbay Terminal about two blocks away.

This news coincides with the kickoff of Salesforce's annual Dreamforce conference. The tech event attracts 170,000 people from around the world. It began on Tuesday and is scheduled to go through Friday.

Hailed as the Grand Central Station of the West, the $2.2 billion building opened to great fanfare just last month and is said to be able to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.

"It's very disappointing that we have to inconvenience the public, but it's a safety issue and we have to take it seriously," Zabaneh said at the news conference.

He said TJPA hopes to have more information for the public by noon on Wednesday.