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By Tim Hunt

Moving forward with Isabel transit hub is right move

Uploaded: Apr 23, 2019

Livermore’ City Council unanimously has affirmed moving ahead with a transit hub neighborhood north of Interstate 580 at Isabel Avenue.

Last year, the council had approved the plan for the 1,100 acres, which was necessary because the city anticipated BART extending service to land the agency owns at Isabel Avenue/I-580 and policy requires any new stations to include plans for high-density housing. With the BART board reneging on the 60-plus year commitment to extend service to Livermore last year, that called the plans into question.

However, the Valley Link plan to connect the Tri-Valley with San Joaquin County using the former railroad right-of-way owned by Alameda County through the Altamont Pass is gaining momentum. The plan includes links to ACE trains in Lathrop and at Greenville Road in Livermore as well as a station at Isabel and a connection to the East Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.

The capital expense for the plan is a little more than the 5-mile BART extension and would include 42 miles of track. It would connect the booming neighborhoods of Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy and Mountain House with job centers in the Tri-Valley, Silicon Valley and the inner Bay Area.

For current residents of that area of Livermore, they are living with minimal local retail or restaurant services. Dining choices within a walkable distance don’t exist. For a runner, it could be the food court at Costco or a fast-food restaurant. It’s similar to what residents of the Springtown area, also north of I-580, have faced for decades. The nearest supermarkets are in downtown Livermore or two exits east on the freeway.

The plan called for buildings to service 9,000 jobs and 4,100 residential units with 25 percent of the housing subsidized as work force units. The residential units would be clustered in four neighborhood with build-out estimated in 2040. That could be enough units for a shopping center developer to bring forward a project with a supermarket and ancillary services.

The council’s action approved updating the prior environmental impact report to reflect Valley Link instead of a terminal BART station.

Given the competition for transit dollars at the state and federal level and the intense focus in Sacramento on the housing crisis, the council made both a wise and necessary move. Planning to build out that area amounts to infill development with the opportunity to improve services to current and future residents.