With the 2020s just four months away, Pleasanton city traffic leader Mike Tassano sees the coming decade much better for commuters and a relief for clogged roads around the city.
In remarks to the Rotary Club of Pleasanton, Tassano cited three major projects making their way to the finish line:
* Highway 84, a four-to-six-lane link between the I-580 and I-680 freeways, will be completed in 2023.
* Express toll lanes on northbound I-680 south of Pleasanton, from Highway 237 to Highway 84, will be completed next year.
* Valley Link, a commuter light rail train linking the first phase of a transit line between Lathrop/Manteca and the eastern Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station, could start its first section of service in 2024.
Tassano, who earned a degree in civil and transportation engineering from San Jose State in 1999, a year after he joined the Pleasanton staff, is now responsible for all aspects of the traffic division of the city's Community Development Department. These range from neighborhood meetings like the ones before agreeing to install speed bumps on Independence Drive to working with state engineers in designing another flyover to connect westbound I-580 to southbound I-680.
When Tassano joined the city's traffic team, I-580 over the Altamont Pass and through Pleasanton was one of the 10 worst commutes in the Bay Area. Toll lanes were 16 years away. Since their opening in February 2016, with Tassano involved in the planning, I-580 is no longer on that list.
Through May for fiscal year 2018-19, those express lanes recorded over 7.8 million total trips, Tassano said. Gross revenue was $12.2 million in tolls with $2.5 million more in violation fees and penalties, more than enough to cover the freeway's operating budget of $5.1 million. The surplus goes back to the Alameda County transportation agency to be used on other freeway projects.
This long-planned thoroughfare will link I-580 to I-680. State, county and city leaders turned the first shovels full of dirt in 2012, starting the $122.4 million, five-phase construction project.
The final phase is now underway.
Tassano said the new Highway 84 expressway, scheduled for completion in 2023, is integral to reducing cut-through traffic in both Pleasanton and Livermore. Since the relocation of Highway 84 from downtown Livermore to Isabel Avenue on the city's western edge, Livermore's city center is thriving.
I-680 express lanes
Construction of the northbound I-680 express lanes from Highway 237 to Highway 84, which began in April 2018, is scheduled for completion in 2020. Design work for a second phase that will extend those lanes to Alcosta Boulevard in Dublin/San Ramon also will begin in 2020, with completion scheduled for 2026
Anticipating that the BART Board of Directors would renege on its longstanding agreement to build the rail line to Livermore, Tassano said cities in Alameda and San Joaquin counties had already received authorization from the state legislature to build a Valley Link rail service to connect BART service from the east Pleasanton station to cities in San Joaquin County, including Tracy and Lathrop.
"That system is now one-third funded with $600 million toward the total cost of $1.8 billion," Tassano said. "That's far less than what BART had once planned to spend even though its electric cars probably couldn't make it up the Altamont Pass grade."
Valley Link would be a single rail line with turnouts powered by a diesel engine. It's link in Pleasanton will be a parallel station, allowing commuters to cross over to BART trains. Its trains locally will operate primarily on the Alameda County-owned former Southern Pacific railroad right-of-way.
Tassano said initial design and environmental work is underway with a final design due in 2021, construction scheduled to start in 2022 and the line opened possibly as early as 2024.