Valley Link is now officially asking the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) for an amendment to Measure BB, which would replace BART with Valley Link as the recipient of $400 million. BART’s extension to Livermore is now dead.
ACTC Executive Director Art Dao acknowledged that a request has been received from Valley Link. More information is needed from the applicant, as part of ACTC’s due diligence, before its board can formally consider it.
Valley Link representatives point out that because Valley Link will help connect Livermore to the Pleasanton BART station, the money will be used for the same purpose, that is, to support Alameda County residents who passed transportation Measure BB. It will be up to cities in San Joaquin County to pay for the stations and improvements in their county.
The picture for transportation grants has shrunk in recent years. Valley Link Executive Director Michael Tree has said the agency will be looking for good funding sources.
The total cost of the Tri-Valley portion of Valley Link is estimated at $1.2 billion. Even after $188 million in bridge tolls are provided, and $40 million in development impact fees from the City of Livermore, there will be a shortfall, perhaps as much as $600 million, because of dwindling government grants.
Valley Link is exploring the possibility of getting $600 million from a potential nine-county Bay Area sales tax. Organizations such as San Francisco-based planning group SPUR and the Bay Area Council have banded together to try to gauge support for a $100 billion fund that would be produced by a regional 1% sales tax.
They point to huge regional sales taxes which have been supported in Los Angeles and Seattle, and believe Bay Area voters would support a similar approach. They hope to put a tax on the ballot in November 2020.
There are several obstacles. One is a state limit on how high a sales tax can rise in a city or county. Special legislation would have to be passed in Sacramento to permit lifting those ceilings. In addition, taxpayer opposition could sink the idea of a new regional sales tax, since it would need a two-thirds vote to pass.