Thursday, October 18, 2007

VTA to study a BART extension without downtown subway

One alternative being considered in the EIS is a shortened BART extension to Berryessa. A maintenance facility under this alternative would either be located in some industrial areas near 101, or not in Santa Clara County at all (by expanding the Hayward yard, etc).

Of course this is not a serious alternative for VTA because it is only to be studied in the EIS to fulfill the federal requirement but not the state mandated EIR, which VTA has completed a supplemental EIR last year without this alternative. The supplemental EIR only studied the same extension to Santa Clara with only one downtown station and some small changes. It is obvious that VTA is studying this alternative for the "New Starts" process, as VTA two years ago intended to compete for federal funds for the Berryessa segment and leave the downtown segment locally funded.

Over the last 6 years, Ron Gonzales has refused to give any consideration or even a meaningful discussion in regards to BART to Milpitas or Berryessa, largely driven by delusionals who wanted BART more as a public monument in downtown San Jose rather than as a transportation option.

However, the extension to Berryessa as presented is a viable option. In contrary to VTA's earlier assertion that a full extension is neccessary because of the proposed maintenance facility in Santa Clara, VTA has identified an alternative location east of downtown in an industrial area. A possible outcome from the EIS could be that an extension to Berryessa, which is within the San Jose's city limit, can be built after all without new taxes and minimal impact to VTA's transit operation and its committment to Caltrain. Would then voters support a tax just for the downtown subway?

Whether BART is extended to Berryessa or Santa Clara, a major disadvantage of BART in the corridor is that one less corridor is available for Altamont Commuter Express and Caltrain Metro East.

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