BART tramway to Oakland Airport back in the planning map

Regional transit agency OKs $20-million in state funding for project

BART's plan to build a 3.2-mile-long elevated tramway between its Oakland Coliseum station and the Oakland airport cleared another hurdle in its long history Wednesday when a regional transit agency voted 6-2 to approve $20 million in state funding for the project.

That sum represents only a small portion of the project's estimated $484 million cost, but BART Director Carole Ward Allen, who represents part of Oakland, said the money is significant and if the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Programming and Allocations Committee hadn't approved it the project might have been killed.

"I'm excited and so happy because this project has had so many stalls," Ward Allen said. "We've spent more than 20 years waiting for this and that's too long."

The project faces another vote by the California Transportation Commission later this month, but Ward Allen said she expects that agency to approve it because it voted unanimously to approve a previous version of the plan.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said if the state commission approves the project, work on the connector could begin in six months and take about four years to be completed.

The connector was approved by the regional commission and several other agencies in 2009, and work was set to begin early this year.

But the Federal Transit Administration created a major roadblock in February by denying BART $70 million in federal stimulus money to help fund the project after three advocate groups filed a complaint alleging that the agency failed to evaluate whether the project would provide low-income and minority communities with a fair share of the project's benefits.

In addition to the $20 million approved by the regional commission, BART is now trying to fill the $70 million funding gap through loans and money from one of the agency's reserve funds.

Opponents of the airport connector project say BART could save hundreds of millions of dollars by developing a rapid bus service between the Coliseum station and the Oakland airport at a cost of between $83 million and $125 million.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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Like this comment
Posted by Grace
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I listened to a radio interview/discussion with the head of the BART board the other morning on this topic, and although he was steadfastly claiming this was a necessary project, I was not convinced. The numbers (reduction of possibly a few minutes of travel time from the Coliseum station to the airport if the connector is built vs. the current bus time) that he was quoting didn't sound significant enough to warrant spending almost $500 million in building funds for this short distance. The other person on the panel had numbers and research that seemed more solid, and pointed out that the development money could be much better used in upgrading existing BART cars and stations, plus adding a high-priority bus system to the Oakland airport from the Coliseum station. The director of the BART board seemed a bit arrogant and brusque, on top of it all.

Like this comment
Posted by BARTD should finish what it promised
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 15, 2010 at 8:55 am

and run the electric train to Livermore, BEFORE building to other places.
They've been taking their tax money since the 60's.

Is it true BARDT is selling the ground level parking lot at Dublin to a developer,
reducing the parking now available?

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

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