In last week’s Independent, mailbox contributor Vaughn Wolffe presented myths about Valley Link that are detrimental and, quite honestly, offensive to many of the Tri-Valley residents and employers I represent, as well as an estimated 98,500 Bay Area workers now living in northern San Joaquin County and commuting daily through the Altamont Corridor in their cars.
This includes those delivering our most vital services – firefighters, police, nurses and teachers – many of whom have been priced out of the communities they serve by rising housing costs; who face an average 78-minute commute each way.
This hurts our environment. It hurts our economy. But importantly, it translates to the loss of 28 days per year on average for each individual commuter, and this hurts our families. Valley Link provides a near-term solution.
Valley Link will provide fast and frequent rail service to BART, operating 25 daily roundtrips compared to only four daily ACE roundtrips. Unlike Valley Link, ACE operates on Union Pacific tracks and the expansion of passenger rail service is constrained. Both agencies are working in partnership towards a long-term Altamont Corridor Vision that, consistent with the California State Rail Plan, will evolve into a coordinated megaregional system, providing connectivity to the future California High Speed Rail Service.
As plans for this long-term vision are advanced, Valley Link will continue to plan on providing fast and frequent service to a BART connection in the Tri-Valley with focus on serving Oakland and San Francisco commuters, while the ACE will focus on longer-haul service with fewer stations and faster service to the Silicon Valley.
The Altamont Corridor Vision proposes “universal” shared track that can be used by both systems, so economies in travel time and capital investments can be realized.
The 42-mile, seven-station Valley Link project serves communities and hardworking households in both the Tri-Valley and the Northern San Joaquin Valley. An estimated 28,000 people are projected to ride the system in 2040. This will result in the reduction of over 99.4 million vehicle miles traveled and the reduction of over 33,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. In addition, through a board-adopted policy, Valley Link will support the advancement of transit-oriented development adjacent to its stations, which will further reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions within the station environs.
The estimated cost of the single station considered in the BART-to-Livermore project was $1.6 billion, compared to the $1.88 billion cost of the 42-mile, seven-station Valley Link project. To date, a total of $628 million is identified as available for the project: $400 million in Measure BB, $188 million in Bridge Toll and $40 million in impact fees from the City of Livermore.
In the Bay Area, it is uncommon for a large-scale transportation project like this to have a third of its funding in place at project inception. A detailed funding plan identifies a roadmap to fill the remaining gap. Potential funding measures are being considered in both the Bay Area and San Joaquin County for transportation projects, including Valley Link. The time to advance this affordable, cost-effective solution is now. Estimates show that each year of delay could escalate costs by approximately $45 million.
Valley Link is responsive to the goals and objectives of the communities it will serve, and I urge everyone to engage in shaping its future. I also urge everyone to get the straight facts. For more facts and information please go to valleylinkrail.com.