In 2014 Alameda County voters approved the Measure BB sales-tax increase to extend BART to Livermore. Now the Alameda County Transportation Commission, with support from County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Tri-Valley Mayors John Marchand, Jerry Thorne, and David Haubert, is poised to divert $400 million of Measure BB funds to build the proposed “Valley Link” railroad to San Joaquin County. The Bay Area Transportation Working Group, of which I am a member, opposes this action.
1. The $400 million allocated to Livermore for BART to Isabel Avenue – the largest single cost item in Measure BB – was intended to improve Tri-Valley access to and from BART. Measure BB promised voters, “Under no circumstances may the proceeds of this transportation sales tax be applied to any purpose other than for transportation improvements benefitting Alameda County.” Valley Link would violate Measure BB by forcing Alameda County taxpayers to build an expensive new railroad through Altamont Pass and subsidize Central Valley commuters who don’t pay the tax.
2. Greenville Road and Grant Line Road stations could induce sprawl and contravene the county’s urban growth boundary (2000 Measure D).
3. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission ridiculously has diverted $60 million of “toll bridge seismic retrofit” dollars to Valley Link.
4. Senate Bill 916 (2003), implemented through voter-approved 2004 Regional Measure 2, says that MTC/Bay Area Toll Authority “shall … fund … rail or High-Occupancy Vehicle lane direct connector to BART and other improvements on I-580 in Alameda County for use by express buses.” But the sponsors of the Valley Link proposal are disregarding this “express buses” mandate.
5. Bus systems are more flexible and have much lower capital and operating costs. The cheapest, fastest and best way of connecting Livermore with BART would be via an express bus network, patterned after the popular and well-used high-tech buses. The Valley Link “alternatives analysis” was extremely inadequate in this regard. It studied a single bus line over the hills to San Joaquin County duplicating the proposed railroad, which offers little benefit to Tri-Valley residents. The potential of an efficient network of buses to improve travel in the Tri-Valley and augment access to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station was ignored.
Please contact the Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin city councils and tell them to vote “no” on diverting any of Livermore’s sales-tax funds to Valley Link until an objective and comprehensive analysis of alternatives is completed and exposed to public review.