The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has included $20 million for the Valley Link commuter light rail system in the upcoming transportation spending bill upon the request of U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore), officials announced this week.
Tri-Valley officials said the $20 million specified in the "Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021" would help implement Valley Link's sustainability blueprint, helping to make the project into a national model of environmental sustainability by identifying and integrating cost effective ways to maximize the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the system's planning, design and operation.
"The Valley Link project will fundamentally change the way we travel in the East Bay by reducing traffic congestion -- particularly on Interstate 580 -- and connecting our communities," Swalwell said in a statement Monday.
"Connecting BART to ACE has been among my top priorities since I came to Congress eight years ago, and I am pleased to finally see it included among our national transportation priorities. I'm looking forward to the spending bill's swift passage so we can deliver on this transformative project," he added.
Valley Link proposes to add seven new passenger light rail service stations along a 42-mile corridor between the eastern Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station and the planned Altamont Corridor Express North Lathrop Station.
Currently, the project is in the design and engineering phase of development. "We have completed 15% design and will move into 30% design in the near future," said Michael Tree, executive director of the Tri-Valley/San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority.
He added, "The $20 million being advanced in Washington, D.C. by Congressman Swalwell for Valley Link will be used to transform the Valley Link rail line into a national model of sustainability with new and emerging zero emission technologies, such as hydrogen powered trains. We will also use the funding to ensure sustainable design with the operations & maintenance facility and stations."
The project received the green light last month to move forward into the current stage after the Valley Link Board of Directors unanimously approved the final environmental impact report.
Federal highway and public transportation programs are funded through multi-year surface transportation authorization acts. Under guidelines issued by the House committee, each representative was able to request funding for highway and transit projects in their community; however, only a handful are included in this year's bill. Projects are restricted to a limited number of federal funding streams and limited to surface transportation authorization legislation.
"We are very fortunate to have a Congressional Representative with such a strong commitment to our project goals," said Tracy Mayor Pro Tem Veronica Vargas, who serves as chair of the Valley Link board.
Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez -- vice chair of the Valley Link board -- added, "Valley Link is essential to our post-pandemic economic recovery. The project will provide access to jobs and job training sites, but will also create up to 22,000 jobs during construction with an economic impact of $3.5 billion.
"The $20 million request advanced by Congressman Swalwell would represent the first allocation of federal funds to the Valley Link project and will bring us one step closer to bringing relief to nearly 100,000 Bay Area workers now commuting daily through this corridor," she added.
Once in service, Valley Link would provide 74 daily round trips and is expected to carry more than 33,000 daily riders by 2040. If the project continues on track, officials said the first Valley Link trains could be placed into service before 2030.