Push is on for ACE to BART train

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - By JA­SON CAMP­BELL

If Veron­ica Var­gas has her way, the pro­posed Al­ta­mont Cor­ri­dor Ex­press ex­pan­sion spa­ces in places like Moun­tain House, Down­town Tracy, River Is­lands and North Lathrop will be shovel-ready by the sum­mer of 2019.

The City of Tracy’s Mayor Pro Tem­pore ad­mit­ted that her timetable was a lit­tle bit op­ti­mistic given the speed at which the wheels of govern­ment turn – es­pe­cially on trans­porta­tion projects – but at an in­for­ma­tional ses­sion

Mon­day night hosted by the Tri Val­ley and San Joaquin Re­gional Rail Au­thor­ity at Lathrop City Hall, Var­gas out­lined the press­ing need to en­hance the ex­ist­ing rail op­tions for North­ern San Joaquin Val­ley res­i­dents that are ex­pected to face a po­ten­tially un­prece­dented growth ex­plo­sion over the course of the next two decades.

“Peo­ple will look at this and think, ‘This is some­thing that’ll hap­pen over the course of the next 10 or 20 years,’” Var­gas said when an­swer­ing ques­tions about the much-dis­cussed pro­posal that would es­sen­tially con­nect ACE trains to the ex­ist­ing Bay Area Rapid Tran­sit net­work, mak­ing the com­mute eas­ier. “But the fact is that we don’t have 10 or 20 years to wait for this – Cal­trans is es­ti­mat­ing that there will be a 300 per­cent in­crease dur­ing that time frame of just semi-trucks on these road­ways.

“We just sim­ply don’t have 10 or 20 years to wait for this to hap­pen.”

The megare­gion con­nec­tion to the Tri-Val­ley BART ex­ten­sion – which is cur­rently un­der review and could ex­tend the ex­ist­ing eastern BART line down to Is­abel Av­enue or Greenville Road in Liver­more – would al­low Val­ley-based ACE rid­ers to es­sen­tially trans­fer at a sta­tion onto a BART train with­out us­ing the ex­ist­ing bus net­work.

At the cen­ter of the pro­posal is an aban­doned 12-mile rail­road right-of-way that was deeded to Alameda County that would al­low for an ad­di­tional line to run from West Tracy through to Greenville Road – dou­bling the number of trips that can be taken from the Val­ley into the Bay Area on a given ba­sis. Pro­pos­als be­ing con­sid­ered would have sta­tion stops dur­ing the day with ev­ery 30-min­utes to ac­com­mo­date what is be­lieved to be a mas­sive in­crease in users with the ex­pected pop­u­la­tion booms com­ing for places like Moun­tain House, Tracy, Lathrop and Man­teca. Those 30-minute trips would meet ev­ery other BART train de­part­ing from the new eastern ter­mi­nus of the Bay Area’s most heav­ily-used pub­lic tran­sit sys­tem.

The $400 mil­lion cost to con­struct the new line could be paid for in part through Propo­si­tion 1A as well as other state and fed­eral trans­porta­tion funds. Those who at­tended Mon­day’s in­for­ma­tional ses­sion were en­cour­aged to con­tact not only their lo­cal elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives to ad­vo­cate on be­half of the pro­ject, but also their re­gional, statewide and fed­eral of­fice­hold­ers to let them know how im­por­tant the pro­ject is to elim­i­nat­ing con­ges­tion on California’s al­ready crowded road­ways and cut­ting down on ve­hi­cle emis­sions.

“We all look at the grid­lock and the dif­fi­culty of trav­el­ing with a sin­gle mode of trans­porta­tion on the high­way sys­tem,” San Joaquin County Su­per­vi­sor Tom Patti said. “We need to di­ver­sify our trans­porta­tion much like is in ex­is­tence on the East Coast.

“This is the type of rail sys­tem that the Gover­nor should have cham­pi­oned all along – fo­cus on the high-den­sity rout­ing that is un­der the great­est amount of stress and use that rather than a long dis­tance re­mote area that is only trav­eled by a few hun­dred peo­ple per day.”

Patti, who thanked Var­gas for her pre­sen­ta­tion and urged those in at­ten­dance to fol­low her sug­ges­tions, said that California’s pri­or­i­ties should be on mak­ing sure that the great­est number of peo­ple can move in the most ef­fi­cient way pos­si­ble in or­der to main­tain the eco­nomic force es­tab­lished in the Bay Area, and spread­ing east to­wards the very places where a large swath of the em­ploy­ment base for that eco­nomic engine lives.

San Joaquin County, which has long sup­ported the ACE effort and has been a ma­jor pro­po­nent of re­gional trans­porta­tion projects to im­prove cir­cu­la­tion and ef­fi­ciency, will likely play an im­por­tant role in meet­ing nearby Alameda County half­way when it comes to ex­tend­ing the sec­ondary line that would cre­ate a spur that would, in some it­er­a­tions, run through Moun­tain House and Down­town Tracy as well as River Is­lands, which will be home to more than 11,000 homes once fully built out.

“A bul­let train from North­ern California down to Bak­ers­field – who is go­ing to use it?” Patti asked rhetor­i­cally. “But if we know we have a hun­dred thou­sand cars ev­ery day trav­el­ing east or west to where the jobs are, then con­nect­ing these net­works and re­gions of travel would be vi­tal to our fu­ture.”


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