Proposed light-rail linking Lathrop, BART takes step forward
Maral Benham-Garcia, a Tracy resident, becomes emotional as she discusses the travails of her daily commute to San Francisco, which begins amid a sea of red lights heading westbound over the Altamont Pass.
“Everyone I know is making this drive,” Benham-Garcia says. “When I talk to people, they tell me I’m crazy, like, it’s just nuts.”
Benham-Garcia tells her story on a video produced by the Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority’s Valley Link project.
For Benham-Garcia and many of the other 79,999 people who make the daily commute over the Altamont to jobs in the Bay Area, Valley Link could be a life-changer.
It’s a proposed light-rail system that by 2024 would connect commuters from Lathrop, Tracy and Mountain House with the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.
A few years after the initial segment opens, the aim is for the Valley Link rail line to add a stop at Stockton’s Altamont Corridor Express station.
“This is a unique mega-region rail project,” Tracy Councilwoman Veronica Vargas, who serves on the Valley Link board, said Monday. “Policymakers are working together to address our mutual and urgent needs. This is a vital rail link. It will help the environment, it will help people, and it will help economic vitality.”
In late 2017, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 758, co-authored by Assemblywomen Susan Eggman, DStockton, and Catharine Baker, a Republican whose district included Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin. Baker is no longer in office.
AB 758 established the TriValley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority and requires the authority to provide a project feasibility report to the public by July 1, 2019. The 840-page feasibility report is available online. A public meeting to release the report is scheduled at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Tracy City Hall, 333 Civic Center Plaza.
The projected cost for the 41mile stretch from Lathrop to BART is $1.8 billion. The money would come from numerous existing funding sources, according to Valley Link, including diesel taxes, state and federal grants and high-speed rail dollars.
There’s no denying it’s an expensive proposition. But, according to Vargas, a previous plan to extend BART five miles east was projected to cost $1.6 billion.