According to the Initial Study/Environmental Assessment for the I-580 Westbound HOV lane, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) projects that the number of commuters to and from the Bay Area will “nearly double over the next 20 years”. In addition, “the largest increases in the number of commuters . . . will be from San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties traveling along I-580” from the Central Valley. Even the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) associated with the Livermore BART extension project states that this extension is expected to “alleviate congestion on I-580, especially during the heavy commute hours between the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area across the Altamont Pass”. It seems obvious that the quickest and most effective BART alignment to get Central Valley commuters through the Tri-Valley is straight down the I-580 median. In fact, according to the EIR projections for this extension, the shortest and least expensive alignment via the I-580 median would also attract the most riders - 31,700 new daily BART riders by the year 2035.
With the purpose and goal for work on the I-580 corridor through the Tri-Valley so well defined, the fact that BART is even considering eight alignments other than the I-580 median, especially the elevated tracks through Pleasanton, smacks purely of politics, not smart planning and effective use of funds.
Even without considering the fact that there is no satisfactory way to mitigate the visual, noise, screech and vibration pollution inherent with a train on an elevated track, the greatly increased cost for a meandering Livermore extension to Greenville Rd. on a route other than via the I-580 median, guarantees that it will be many years before it will be completed. That means, of course, years before we will see any measurable relief on the I-580 through the Tri-Valley.
Let your voice on this project be heard. Tell BART that not only do we NOT want an elevated track in Pleasanton, we DO want a Livermore extension that will provide the most bang for our buck - a cost effective extension via the I-580 median that will attract the most riders and provide the biggest congestion relief for our freeway corridor.
Comments on the Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) can be submitted through 5 PM, Jan 21, 2010 at: Web Link