State transportation commission OKs $20 million for BART tramway to Oakland Airport

Construction could start next year on four-year project

BART's proposed 3.2-mile elevated tramway between the Oakland Coliseum station and the Oakland airport moved closer to becoming a reality Wednesday when the California Transportation Commission voted unanimously to approve $20 million in state funding for the project.

The sum represents only a small part of the project's estimated $484 million in total costs, but BART officials said the money is significant because it helps complete the funding for the project.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said the transportation commission's affirmative vote at Wednesday's meeting in Fresno was expected because the state agency had previously approved the funding two other times.

He said the commission voted on the project a third time because opponents had raised procedural concerns. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission also approved the $20 million in a 6-2 vote two weeks ago.

Johnson said work on the connector could begin in six months and will take about 3.5 or four years to complete.

The connector, which was first proposed more than 20 years ago, was approved by the MTC and other agencies in 2009, and work was set to begin early this year.

But the Federal Transit Administration created a major roadblock in February by denying BART $70 million in federal stimulus money to help fund the project after three advocate groups filed a complaint alleging that BART failed to evaluate whether the project would provide low-income and minority communities with a fair share of the project's benefits.

In addition to the $20 million approved by the state, BART is filling the $70 million funding gap with loans and money from one of its reserve funds.

Opponents of the project say BART could save hundreds of millions of dollars by developing a rapid bus service between the Coliseum station and Oakland International Airport that would cost between $83 million and $125 million.

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Like this comment
Posted by arnie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2010 at 8:36 am

i look forward to its completion in 2050

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 23, 2010 at 11:00 am

20 million dollars seems to be a popular figure with agencies trying to get appoval for projects. The I 680 Express Lane was originally approved for 20 million dollars. The end result was 200 million. Seems that it is both easy to get approval for the project if you stay at or below 20 million, and easy to justify cost increases once the project is started. No wonder the state budget is in a gigantic mess.

Like this comment
Posted by Frequent flyer
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I think this is big waste of money. I fly out of Oakland and it's cheap and easy to jump on the shuttle from the Coliseum. Money would be better spent on BART extension to Livermore, or south to Milpitas /San Jose.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Patrick
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2010 at 10:12 am

If Oakland Airport needed this people mover, it would either have a lot more traffic than it now does or would have a plan in place for major expansion. It doesn't. The airport does not need this project.

All the airport needs is some upgrades to the existing AirBART bus, such as a better route and signal priority at intersections. BART should give simple modifications like these a good try before they even consider such a drastic and expensive change as this people mover.

Like this comment
Posted by Albert
a resident of Castlewood
on Sep 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm

$20 million is a joke. That won't even cover legal fees. The published cost is "estimated" at $484 million !!!

Read this BART web site: Web Link and you will clearly see this all about short term job creation for Oakland. This is a waste of MONEY!!! Spend the money getting BART closer to where people live, and stop this joke of a project!!!

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