Wednesday, December 03, 2014

VTA's BART/SV Meeting 12/2/2014

A representative from NWGNA attended last night's BART/SV Phase II public outreach meeting held at the VTA offices in downtown San Jose. The slides shown at the meeting are available here.

Of particular note, Measure A tax revenues would  be used to fund Phase I (Milpitas and Berryessa) and other VTA projects. Phase II would require additional funding to be procured both locally and federally. The local projected shortfall is $2.43B. There was some non-specific mention of public/private partnerships to generate additional funds.

The environmental review process will continue to include all four planned stations in San Jose: 28th St/Alum Rock, Downtown San Jose, Diridon, and Santa Clara. The process of the Environmental Impact Statement/Report will continue in draft form through the first quarter of 2016. At this time the federal New Starts funding application is scheduled and the finalization of the EIS/R occurs.

Further meetings are planned for the spring of 2015 which include more specific topics including: Economic and Community Benefits, Funding, Station Planning, Transportation Connectivity, and Construction Methods.

Attendees were permitted to ask questions and make comments such as:
- ensuring the Alum Rock at 28th Street station was included moving forward
- solicit greater community involvement and buy in to help ensure additional tax measures would pass
- ideas to save money by eliminating the Santa Clara station and any tunnels or facilities beyond Diridon Station
- idea to use BART service but non-BART equipment (BART-branded cars running on ACE lines) to service SJC and Great America at an estimated 10% of the cost of running BART-specific equipment
- distrust based on VTA's failure to bring BART to San Jose after multiple tax measures levied to do just that

After the meeting, we spoke with VTA employees one-on-one particularly regarding the coordination - if any - of VTA/BART and the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) about construction north and west of the proposed Diridon Station stop. The short answer is that there is no communication happening between these agencies. It should be noted that in CHSRA meetings last year, the underground options for an underground HSR station at Diridon was not plausible due to plans for the underground BART tunnel in that area. At this time it is not known if BART will continue underground beyond its station near Diridon. If it does continue, either for service to Santa Clara or the proposed maintenance yard at Newhall, it is highly likely that the only economically viable HSR option would be elevated tracks. The VTA official we spoke with specifically noted that the VTA's work on BART had begun long before the HSR project.

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