Only 2 Days Left to Comment on the BART/Livermore Proposal to Build Elevated Tracks Over Staples Ranch State, National, International, posted by Billie, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm
While I have long been in support of this particular extension, I am concerned that most of the proposed routes do not follow the I-580 median, a corridor that, according to the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA), has been the Bay area’s second most congested route since 2003.
According to the Initial Study/Environmental Assessment for the I-580 Westbound HOV lane, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) projects that the number of commuters to and from the Bay Area will “nearly double over the next 20 years”. In addition, “the largest increases in the number of commuters . . . will be from San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties traveling along I-580” from the Central Valley. Even the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) associated with the Livermore BART extension project states that this extension is expected to “alleviate congestion on I-580, especially during the heavy commute hours between the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area across the Altamont Pass”. It seems obvious that the quickest and most effective BART alignment to get Central Valley commuters through the Tri-Valley is straight down the I-580 median. In fact, according to the EIR projections for this extension, the shortest and least expensive alignment via the I-580 median would also attract the most riders - 31,700 new daily BART riders by the year 2035.
With the purpose and goal for work on the I-580 corridor through the Tri-Valley so well defined, the fact that BART is even considering eight alignments other than the I-580 median, especially the elevated tracks through Pleasanton, smacks purely of politics, not smart planning and effective use of funds.
Even without considering the fact that there is no satisfactory way to mitigate the visual, noise, screech and vibration pollution inherent with a train on an elevated track, the greatly increased cost for a meandering Livermore extension to Greenville Rd. on a route other than via the I-580 median, guarantees that it will be many years before it will be completed. That means, of course, years before we will see any measurable relief on the I-580 through the Tri-Valley.
Let your voice on this project be heard. Tell BART that not only do we NOT want an elevated track in Pleasanton, we DO want a Livermore extension that will provide the most bang for our buck - a cost effective extension via the I-580 median that will attract the most riders and provide the biggest congestion relief for our freeway corridor.
Comments on the Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) can be submitted through 5 PM, Jan 21, 2010 at: Web Link
Posted by Martin Isenburg, a resident of Livermore, on Jan 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm
A pure highway alignment along I-580 is something that i – and all urban planners and city officials i talked to – strongly dislike because it would mean to (yet again) repeat the mistakes of the (auto-centric) planning in the past.
A BART station in downtown Livermore presents a unique opportunity to create a wonderful walkable community around downtown setting a textbook example for sustainable transit oriented planning in America. I already love what the City has done during the redevelopment efforts of the past few years that have converted downtown from a four-lane freeway to a welcoming and cute destination. But it is still a downtown on life-support. There is no sustainable traffic throughout the day to support the kind of business you expect to find in a healthy downtown: produce stalls, a delicatessen, a small grocery store, a bakery, a cheese store, or a butcher. Try to buy a carton of eggs or a loaf of bread in downtown. Impossible.
Most people think that Europe and Japan have great public transport. Well ... their subways, light-rails, and trains goes right to where people live, work, shop, and play: downtown.
A BART station in downtown Livermore certainly should not come at the expense of Pleasanton residents. My "preferred" alignment keeps BART on I-580 all the way out of Pleasanton until Livermore's (soon to be demolished) Portola Avenue exit. From there it should go underground to downtown and then eventually resurface to continue along the railroad to a station at either Vasco or Greenville.
Posted by Martin Isenburg, a resident of Livermore, on Jan 19, 2010 at 6:17 pm
Although a pure I-580 alignment may be the cheapest and fastest option to build ... we really have to take a step back and realize that our decisions now will influence development for the next 50 to 100 years. Our decision making should be driven by the objective of a long-term sustainable future for the East Bay - not by pleasing a short-term financial bottom-line. Generations to come will thank us if we can get it right this time.
Posted by Billie, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2010 at 8:43 am
While it's true that Livermore has done a great job with renovating the downtown, I don't believe that a downtown BART station is going to save it economically. The only lure for those living outside Livermore would be theatre or event traffic on weekends – which doesn’t justify its build. It's unfortunate, but a stand alone station in the middle of downtown does not make a public transport oriented community, nor is it realistically a draw for those outside Livermore during the day - even if there were "the kind of business you expect to find in a healthy downtown: produce stalls, a delicatessen, a small grocery store, a bakery, a cheese store, or a butcher". In addition, BART needs to bring in enough new rider-ship to remain viable, and, as it turns out, they project that the shortest and least expensive alignment via the I-580 median would also attract the most riders.
The downtown station certainly hasn’t been planned as a major commuter station for those living in Livermore to use (even though they've been paying for it all these years) because parking availability will be minimal. Commuters from the Central Valley are not going to hop off the I-580 to travel through Livermore to access the station when they can get on BART, or the train, at Greenville Rd.
Additionally, anyone hoping to use the “Downtown Livermore Station” during commute hours, assuming they can find parking, is only going to add to the Livermore traffic congestion now experienced by commuters trying to access SR84 via south First St. and those residents trying to get to and from Livermore High School during commute hours. As a carpool provider for several Livermore High students, I have experienced the daily delays and backups firsthand.
So while in theory it sounds great, it doesn't answer the basic need we do have for the forseeable future - and that is to get from point A to point B the quickest, most efficient way possible.
That said, I agree with you that "a BART station in downtown Livermore certainly should not come at the expense of Pleasanton residents". In the event that there is final approval to build BART through downtown Livermore I also agree with the alignment you noted, and stated words to that effect in my comments on the PEIR.
Posted by Billie, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2010 at 12:46 pm
Thanks, Kurt! The website you pointed to is the same one I noted in my comments - the only difference being that the Web Link I noted will take commentors directly to the comment page of the "BART to Livermore" website. I'm not aware of any e-mail address to submit comments, but hopefully that won't hinder folks from submitting their views by 5 pm tomorrow via the website link.
Posted by Linda Sailors, a resident of Livermore, on Jan 20, 2010 at 12:54 pm
Putting BART downtown Livermore may be the planners dream, but it will be the Livermore residents' nightmare. The noise of the train, the effect on local business and residents with the construction of a tunnel (possibly a two year project), and the cost make for a bad project. The past 4 studies on BART to Livermore have shown that the I580 route to Greenville will be the least expensive and gain the most riders. Let's be practical....a downtown route will only happen if Livermore pays for it.
Posted by Kurt Kummer, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm
Please try to get to the third (and final) workshop to discuss BART station planning. BART will present options and ask for comments about the proposed BART to Livermore project. The anticipated costs in 2009 dollars for this project are approximately $3 Billion dollars. Yes, billion.
The meeting is this Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010, from 6:30 - 9:00 pm at the Shrine Center in Livermore. The address is 170 Lindbergh Ave.
Emails are great if you can't go in person, but now's the time to really have your voice heard. See you there.
Posted by Martin Isenburg, a resident of Livermore, on Jan 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm
Responding to Billie's comments:
Sure, also I strongly advocate to build a I-580 BART station near Greenville / Vasco. It will create a lot of instant ridership ... at least as much as will fit on the parking lot. But it alone will not lead to the much needed change in how we live and commute. We need to combine it with a well-designed downtown station.
A BART station in downtown Livermore is an incredible once in a lifetime chance to create a beautiful walkable community. America had let too many such chances like this by. This time let us take this amazing opportunity and get it right. It's okay to spend some extra time or money now because the opportunities we can create for the next 100 years are priceless.
Once BART is there it will just take a couple of years to increase the housing density to allow more people to live close to downtown. Such a downtown will attract people that want to live in healthy sustainable communities without depending on cars for their everyday commute.
The Rockridge station in Oakland is a great model for how community grows around transit. People that live with the intention to care for their surroundings are drawn there. There are produce stalls, cheese stores, bakeries, coffee shops ... even a Trader Joe's opened up right next to BART ... people shop there on their way to work, on their way home, on their way to the city, on their way to meet friends. BART providing transport and the surrounding shops providing goods of daily need is a synergy that creates a continuous flow of people ...
I used to live a couple of blocks from that station and I cannot think of a more wonderful community. People come and go using BART all day and therefore create foot, bike, bus, and drop-off traffic that allows the surrounding businesses to flourish. I see your concern about traffic. But this can be easily mitigated. The city of Oakland uses a very effective system of neighborhood parking permits to keep the cars of out-of-town commuters away.
Pleasanton had the same potential. But BART by-passed their downtown and now sits pretty and empty on the sidelines. Livermore can be the next Rockridge. Don't let them bypass us as well.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2010 at 9:25 pm
I think running BART to downtown Livermore serves few and is money NOT well spent. The goal is to cut down on the traffic on 580 and keep the traffic of commuters out of the communities. The biggest issue BART has right now is cost of ridership and lack of parking. I say stay on the main 580 path, push the building as far out on 580 as possible to capture the traffic from Tracy and Stockton and build a huge parking garage that allows riders a space beyond 7am.
Posted by Livermoron, a resident of Livermore, on Jan 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm
I'm not paying $3 Billion for a parking garage. Put the Livermore station where Livermore can use it. Tracy and Stockton commuters can simply board the Altamont Commuter Express train in their hometowns, and transfer to BART in Livermore by simply walking across the platform. The ACE train is already there, we just need the BART connection to make it work.