Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - January 1, 2010

BART to Livermore?

At first ignored, agency now seeks Pleasanton's input on routing plans

by Jeb Bing

BART representatives will hold a public meeting in the City Council Chamber Wednesday to discuss long-range plans to extend the rapid transit line east from the Dublin-Pleasanton station to as far as Greenville Road and possibly into downtown Livermore.

The long-planned BART to Livermore route is about as old in the planning stages as the BART system, itself. Since 1960 when BART was formed, taxpayers, including those in Livermore, have paid millions of dollars in revenue to expand BART service to the East Bay cities of Pittsburg and Pleasanton, even to San Francisco International Airport. But Livermore has long been considered too far, too expensive and with too few riders to make it worthwhile.

That has changed, at least as a planning concept, which is what Wednesday's meeting is all about.

Yet Pleasanton officials say that the decision BART authorities will make with regard to the 2,000-page Livermore Extension Draft Environmental Impact Review, which is the focus of the Wednesday meeting, will be critical to Pleasanton's development in 2010 even though it's unlikely any tracks would be laid within the next 10 to 20 years.

City Manager Nelson Fialho said that Pleasanton has long supported Livermore's plea to extend BART east, but the favored route has always been in the median of Interstate 580 to as far as Greenville Road.

"BART tracks running east from the Pleasanton station to Greenville Road in the center of the freeway, as trains now operate from Castro Valley, makes sense," Fialho said. "It's the cheapest route to build and, because stations would continue to be on the freeway, would attract the biggest increase in riders."

But BART planners, after discussing Livermore's interests, added several other suggested routes as shown in its comprehensive EIR. Four of them show the BART extension tracks rising to 40 feet in height from the Pleasanton station, crossing over I-580 and then heading south and east toward downtown Livermore. At their highest point, the tracks would also cross over the northwest corner of Staples Ranch, a 124-acre parcel now owned by Alameda County where four multi-million-dollar development projects are planned and property that Pleasanton plans to annex.

The projects, in fact, could be in jeopardy if elevated tracks are built over land that is now designated for a 37-acre auto mall planned by the Hendrick Automotive Group and within eyesight of those who would live in the adjacent Stoneridge Creek complex planned by Continuing Life Communities (CLC), with up to 800 units for assisted living, skilled nursing and independent living residents.

Although it would take years and billions of dollars to ever build the BART extension, the agency's EIR tends to favor the Staples Ranch elevated tracks, which Hendrick vehemently opposes. For Pleasanton, the Chicago-New York City style elevated line would add a new view of Pleasanton's eastern gateway for motorists on I-580, a view which city officials have said they oppose as well.

At a meeting with the Pleasanton City Council Dec. 15, District 4 BART Director John McPartland and BART Project Manager Malcolm Quint insisted that no decisions have yet been made on where to route a BART extension to Livermore. Only four of the nine routing alternatives actually take BART over Staples Ranch, although that could be a preferred route since the tracks would follow mostly vacant, public land, traveling south and then southeast into downtown Livermore.

The downtown location is supported by some city leaders, including Livermore Mayor Marshall Kamena and the city's urban redevelopment agency that see rapid transit to the city center a boon to businesses located there as well as to the future multi-million-dollar performing arts center planned for the downtown. Livermore is in the midst of a massive downtown redevelopment and Kamena sees a downtown BART station as essential to that development.

But a downtown Livermore BART station was largely panned by residents who attended the public hearings. A majority favored the original extension plan that would keep BART in the freeway corridor, terminating at Greenville Road. They said that route would be less noisy with vacant land available for commuter parking and that it would attract less crime. Several also said they would not want BART tracks or a station near their homes.

Quint's and McPartland's appearance before the Pleasanton council Dec. 15 was unscheduled and not an official presentation. Nevertheless, it soothed some ruffled feathers among Pleasanton leaders who had been watching from the sidelines as BART pursued its Staples Ranch flyover plan without consulting them or even inviting them to any of the meetings, which BART held only in Livermore. Quint said the meetings from now on would be held alternately in Pleasanton and Livermore. Pleasanton's Deputy City Manager Steven Bocian was named to an advisory board to confer on the EIR.

"Pleasanton has always been very supportive of extending BART to Livermore," said Mayor Jennifer Hosterman. "We look forward to working with you."

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 200 Old Bernal Ave.

Comments

Posted by Trust BARTD?, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 4, 2010 at 11:33 am

Apparently the BARTD to Livermore is just an exercise in paperwork.
Altho they may build new tracks to the Oakland Airport, or to Santa Clara, or to Pittsburg, it is not at all clear that BARTD intends to actually build what was promised in the original BARTD plans, way back when.
Wasn't the BARTD plan then approved? Why do we need to do the paperwork again?
Look at their intentions: A couple of years ago BARTD even tried to sell off the land that was acquired for the Livermore station.
It sounds like NO construction will ever be done until and unless someone comes up with new money. Whatever happened to the money Livermore has been paying since the 60's, for a train that stops short?


Posted by Shultz, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2010 at 10:36 am

Why is it that Livermore, Dublin and Alameda County try to stick it to Pleasanton on an on-going basis? Marchall Kamena, Tim Sbranti, and Scott Haggerty need to have it stuck back to them with a hot whatever.

This idea of Livermore and Alameda County conspiring with BART to try to sneak through the BART extension to Livermore running through Pleasanton on an unsightly elevated track is simply outrageous.

Then there is the whole concept of Livermore wanting to extend the airport runways and telling Pleasanton its a Livermore airport, we will do what we want, and we don't give a hoot about noise over Pleasanton.

Then their was the situation where Dublin, Livermore and Alameda County ganged up on Pleasanton to force the Stongeridge extension so we can have more Livermore cut-through traffic. And, they want the Las Positas freeway interchange built as well so we can have even more Livermore cut-through traffic. Dublin and Livermore are hell-bent on turning this area into a mini-LA.

The Pleasanton City Council needs to get much more creative and foreceful in dealing with these entities.

We ought to put a $10 per person toll on all Livermore cut-through traffic so Livermore becomes aware that we aren't going to tolerate them sticking it to us anymore.

With Livermore's ways of doing things, Pleasanton should fight the BART extension tooth and nail. Advocate instead that BART use the money to extend BART to San Jose. That's something that would provide benifit to Pleastonians.

Then, citizens of Pleasanton need to contribute to whoever is running against Kamena, Sbranti and Haggerty.


Posted by judy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Schultz, I hope you have WRITTEN THOSE words to Haggerty, Kamena, & BART ? DO SO. Everybody..... IF you care at all about Pleasanton, WRTIE to each of the above. Most of all IF you do not intend to SPEAK at tomorrow's meeting, which is being held -- FOR -- PLEASANTON RESIDENTS, then EMAIL ..NOW to ....info@barttolivermore.org --- expressing you are a CONCERNED PLEASANTON RESIDENT, concerned about the seniors that would not be served, about the LOST revenue for the city, thus the reduced prop tax revenue that the country would NOT receive, the ugliness, etc.


Posted by judy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Schultz, you are right tho, IF they want to trash Pleasanton, we could put TOLL boxes at the tressle at Stanley & Valley, and / or narrow Valley to one lane, so their lives could be a bit more UNpleasant...I really like that idea.
I think they have lost their minds to even consider opening the battle of a cut-thru through valuable Pleasanton properties.


Posted by dublinmike, a resident of Dublin
on Jan 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Hey Shultz, I don't see where Dublin Mayor Sbranti and Supervisor Haggerty are trying to stick it to Pleasanton (I can't speak for Mayor Kamena) on the BART issue. The long term plan was always to run it along I580 even if Kamena wanted to do so.

As regards to "Dublin and Livermore are hell-bent on turning this area into a mini-LA" not sure where this is coming from with respect to Livermore. Livermore thinks that Dublin is trying to make the Tri-Valley into Irvine County. So, your thinking is a bit whacky, to beg your pardon, and it does prove that you do not know what you speak of. As for me, I would agree that we have become the "little-Irvine" of the Tri-Valley, however.

So, with regards to Mayor Sbranti and Supervisor Haggerty I would suggest that you don't go running off half-cocked unless you can present specific quotes by them to support your opinion. And if you do, than I might even support you.


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