BART to Livermore plan brings out range of public opinion

Transit agency soliciting feedback on draft environmental report, which details nine alignments and five station sites

A downtown Livermore BART station was panned by residents who attended a public hearing on extending the rail line, possibly through east Pleasanton.

The transit agency held a public hearing Wednesday at the Livermore Council Chambers to obtain comments on a draft environmental impact report, which details nine alignment routes and five station locations to extend service to Livermore.

Among the station sites proposed are Isabel Avenue at Interstate 580, Isabel at Stanley Boulevard, downtown Livermore, Vasco Road at Brisa Street and Greenville Road at I-580. A majority of speakers in the audience, which numbered roughly 100, said they preferred a route that continues along Interstate 580 to Greenville Road because it would be less noisy, easy to find parking and would attract less crime.

"I'm concerned about the environmental impact on a very important species here in Livermore -- myself," said Bonnie Nelson.

"I'm concerned about the train going right behind my house," she added, saying she would prefer the route to travel alongside the freeway.

Michelle Burkette echoed Nelson's sentiments, adding that her property values would be affected, it would be dangerous for pedestrians and there are privacy issues should the route travel via aerial tracks into downtown Livermore, as is proposed in one of the alignments.

Stacey Miller, who attends Livermore High School, said through tears that she's worried a downtown station would attract unsavory people.

But others said they could see the benefits of having public transit come downtown.

"Whenever there's change, people get nervous," said Cathy Streeder, adding that a downtown station would bring more money to the local region. "They don't think about the long-term benefit. We have to look at this dispassionately."

Martin Eisenberg said he moved to downtown Livermore recently from Berkeley and likes the idea of bringing BART downtown.

"They have a BART station in Rockridge and it's a very good community feel," he said.

"I'm not worried about crime," he added, saying there should be a different approach to keeping crime down than restricting public transportation.

A freeway station like Greenville, Eisenberg continued, wouldn't be as effective because the parking lot would fill in the early morning, rendering it useless during the day, and would serve mostly people on the other side of the Altamont Pass, not Livermore residents.

That sentiment was made by a consultant hired by BART at a workshop last week held at the Shrine Event Center in Livermore. The workshop was the first in what will be a three-part series with the next meeting scheduled for Dec. 10 at the same location.

The workshop, similar to Wednesday's hearing, outlined possible station locations, as well as detailing their respective advantages and drawbacks.

BART officials emphasized the need for transit-oriented development, meaning retail and residential projects that would encourage walk-ability to a station and lessen the demand for parking spaces.

Bonnie Nelson of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting said building parking structures and surface lots is expensive, while TOD developments offer more efficiency.

"When you build housing near a station, it's more cost-effective because the rides are spread out throughout the day," she said. "It's much more efficient to have a TOD station, having riders come throughout the day, than showing up between 6 to 8 a.m."

The Dublin/Pleasanton station is an example of one that could have used TOD, she added. Research shows that 60 percent of people who ride BART get there by car, 10 percent take transit and only 4 percent walk to the station. As a result, the lots are filled by early morning.

Abby Thorne-Lyman of consulting firm Strategic Economics, said a station with transit-oriented development would also be cheaper for the city of Livermore because it wouldn't require as much infrastructure, operation or maintenance costs.

"Downtown Livermore is a good site," she said. "There are a lot of attractions and an ACE station is already there."

Plans for extending BART to Livermore are hardly new and it could be 10-25 years before any development takes place, but plans, which have picked up steam recently, have come a long way. Most of the alignments include two stations, but a couple include just one with another planned as part of a possible second phase.

Though the extension would require mapping out a route from the Dublin/Pleasanton station east to Livermore, there was no mention made at the workshop of how it would affect Pleasanton. Plans obtained by Pleasanton City Manager Nelson Fialho show that in two alignments, the route would traverse on elevated tracks through the northeast corner of the currently vacant Staples Ranch property, where development is planned for an auto mall, senior residences, retail center, a four-rink ice arena and a community park.

There is a 45-day public review period for the environmental report, which will conclude Dec. 21. A second hearing on the EIR will be held Dec. 2 at the Robert Livermore Community Center. BART officials will take all of the comments it receives on the draft EIR and include them with answers in a final EIR to be certified by the BART board of directors. At that point, a preferred alignment option will be recommended to the board, followed by further public comment.

The extension is estimated to serve between 20,000 and 30,000 new riders and could cost $2.9 billion to $3.8 billion. Funding sources, according to BART Project Manager Malcolm Quint, would come from a variety of sources: $120 million that's been identified by BART to preserve right-of-way, the Measure B sales tax, bridge tolls, the city of Livermore, Measure K funds from San Joaquin County, state and federal funding and public-private partnerships.

The next in the workshop series is Dec. 10, where participants will look at potential station pairings, view and rate examples of station features. The last workshop, which will summarize the progress of the first and second workshops as well as look at 3D visual imagery, is scheduled for Jan. 21.

To view the alignments and station sites, go to click here. For more information, visit

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Like this comment
Posted by Livermore resident
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 20, 2009 at 8:20 am

Please.......we need 'four' BART Stations in Livermore: 1) Airway Boulevard, 2) First Street, 3) Vasco Road, and 4) Greenville. These Stations would accommodate businesses/commuters in these four areas. Bus shuttles can bring people in outlying neighborhoods on both sides of I-580 to the Stations. Parking garages are also necessary at all four Stations to allow commuters coming from Tracy, Stockton, Modesto, etc. to use BART instead of driving to their destinations, thus alleviating the traffic on I-580.

Like this comment
Posted by Jim Saha
a resident of Dublin
on Nov 20, 2009 at 8:46 am

More important than multiple Livermore stations, I think it is better to consider one Livermore station and use any additional funds to extend bart over the Altamont to Mountain House & Tacy in order to reduce congestion on 580. I think this maximizes the benefits of BART for those of us who live here in the Tri Valley and who hope to have 580 traffic reduced someday.

Like this comment
Posted by Qwerty
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I agree with Jim S. that it is a far better idea to have ONE station at Livermore and additional stations in mountain house and tracy. The traffic jams on 580 are absolutely horrid so we need a better way to help bring things people in - not crowd 4 stations in livermore.

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

It seems like many of the proposed routes all benefit Livermore to the detriment of the rest of the Tri-Valley.

Like this comment
Posted by jj
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 20, 2009 at 2:42 pm

BART would do much more good on the other side of the Altamont since ALL of the traffic that is jamming 580 in Livermore and Dublin is coming from the Central Valley, not from Livermore. Why should our community be turned upside down to accommodate out of town commuters anyway?

But even better than building BART, which stinks, is not a good value to the taxpayer, and is an eyesore and a public nuisance, would be tax credits to incent businesses to relocate some operations in the Central Valley, or to provide telecommuting alternatives for their employees. Maybe a tax credit based on the average distance from the office to the geographic center of their employee's residence (you weight the dispersion and determine the geographic center that way). Neither of these things costs taxpayers a dime for something they don't use, takes people off the road (a far better alternative than the current "planes trains and automobiles" approach to transit), and reduces the human footprint. All good stuff and practically free, because its just a reallocation of resources and doesn't require any new infrastructure.

Building new infrastructure to move people around is STUPID especially for a regional economy so heavily biased in the "information technology" space. Its embarrassing that we are struggling with old school problems and solutions when most of it could be avoided with proper planning and exploiting existing technologies that enable collaboration and virtual work.

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 20, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Jim S. Qwerty

I have to disagree, in that BART has the most expensive construction costs of any rail in at least California. To consider extending Bart from Livermore to even Mountain House is Insane with a capital "I". Let alone a few more miles to Tracy and beyound is out of the question. We are stretching the limits even having our extension to Livermore actually being considered for actual construction, even though it's well deserved i.e traffic on 580 and the Bart tax in Livermore.

We are better off building standard gauge, proven and reliable, off the shelf electric train tech (and might I add Cheaper than BART), for the ACE train upgrade being proposed at this time in conjunction with Bart. That makes more sense to bring people from the Central Valley on the proposed Electrified, Altamont Corridor Express with Bullet train sharing of tracks for the statewide system, into Livermore and dropping commuters off at a transfer station at let's say Vasco/Brisa Bart Station where you can cross the platform and get on Bart or get on the Wheels bus system to your destination with direct bus service to LLNL Lab. You can then take Bart to Downtown Livermore and beyound to Oakland & San Francisco.

Let's put our long term thinking hats on people. What seems like an Ok idea today (Bart along the 580 to Greenfield) doesn't make sense in the long run. It's just a patch up of our current problems with other problems coming up down the timeline. Let's get it right the first time and not propose build a Bart Extension to 580 freeway to accomodate solely the people on the other side of the hill coming over. We need Bart To Livermore not Bart to the Freeway median.

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Build BART to Livermore, but don't route it on a noisy elevated track past an already noise sensitive neighborhood. I don't think there will be any way to properly mitigate that.

Like this comment
Posted by Martin Isenburg
a resident of Livermore
on Dec 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

The city of Livermore is holding three workshops to gather public input on the possible alignments and station combination for the BART extension. The first one was well attended and it seemed as if the audience’s opinion more or less converged on having two stations: One in downtown Livermore to serve the residents, to vitalize local businesses, and to spark sustainable transit-oriented development but with strict parking regulations to keep car commuter traffic out of downtown. The other one as far east as possible with ample amounts of parking to serve commuters from Mountain House, Tracy and beyond and ease congestion on I-580.

A pure I-580 alignment is something that i – and all urban planners and city officials i talked to – strongly dislike because it would mean to repeat the mistakes of (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 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. well done a downtown BART station could turn Livermore into a poster child for sustainable urban growth that promotes local business, healthy lifestyle, and walkable communities.

Web Link

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Posted by ElCabron
a resident of Livermore
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Bart should pass through Airway, Downtown, Vasco, And Greenville and I dont see why BART couldn't keep expanding past livermore. People act like just because Livermore would get multiple stations that we can't continue it onto the central valley. People need to stop complaining that it will be an "eye sore" or make "too much noise" because face it, Livermore is a growing city and in 15 years its going to be just like San Leandro. Why worry about petty things like that instead of realizing the potential money it can bring into this city and how much more conveniant things could be for the people of Livermore. As far as crime goes, the LPD is worthless anyways as it is. They can't do anything except cruise around residential areas at 10 at night looking for a brown person to harrass. We're paying taxes for a reason, if crime wants to follow with BART then it looks like the LPD will actually have to start doing their job. The quicker it gets here the better, especially if its a multiple stop route.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Livermore
on Apr 24, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Bart to Livermore should only have station(s) near the freeway and eventually extend to Tracy. It requires too much parking and introduces too much traffic to put it any other place. It does not belong downtown! That would only bring noise to existing neighborhoods along its route and introduce crime not to mention waste millions of tax dollars.

Like this comment
Posted by bobp
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I oppose the plan to bring it downtown. Does anybody have a link or information on contacting Bob Allen and his group? I understand he is working on an initiative to overturn BART's decision to plant stations downtown and at Vasco Road.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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