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First phase of Valley Link enters federal grant program

Stakeholders laud approval as key project milestone

Design for Valley Link commuter light rail train. (Image courtesy Valley Link)

The Tri-Valley/San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority announced earlier this month that the Federal Transit Administration has approved entry of the Valley Link rail project Phase 1 into project development of the Capital Investment Grants program.

"Acceptance of Valley Link into the CIG program marks a key milestone in advancing this transformational project forward," said Veronica Vargas, chair of the transit authority board of directors in a statement. "This is the first, but critical step, in positioning Valley Link to compete for federal funding during a time when once-in-a generation transit funding is available on the federal level."

The 26-mile first phase of the project between the Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station in Alameda County and the Mountain House station in San Joaquin County, would connect tens of thousands of Northern San Joaquin Valley workers to the Tri-Valley, according to transit authority officials. The phase, including the Isabel and South Front Road stations in Livermore, is targeted for construction in 2025.

"I am so pleased that the Tri-Valley cities' Valley Link project was approved by the Federal Transit Administration. This will start the process for designing and operating a critical link between BART and the Altamont Corridor Express," U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) said in a statement.

"Approval of this project could translate to 30,000 fewer cars on the road each day. By reducing congestion and improving air quality, this would be the biggest climate rescue project ever in the Tri-Valley," he added.

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Swalwell said that connecting BART to ACE has been among his "top priorities" since entering Congress. Last year, he helped secure from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee $20 million for Valley Link in its transportation spending bill.

The FTA approval of Valley Link into the CIG pipeline follows the March 23 unanimous adoption of Valley Link as part of the regional project priorities for the CIG program by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county Bay Area.

The full Valley Link rail project proposes to add a new 42-mile, seven station rail connection between the Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station and the North Lathrop ACE Station in San Joaquin County with all day service on BART frequencies during peak periods. The rail system is projected to provide an estimated 33,000 daily rides in 2040.

While project advancements continue, Valley Link is also currently in litigation.

Last month, the Alameda County Taxpayers' Association and the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit to stop the project's development, citing a number of concerns including allegations that the Alameda County Transportation Commission illegally shifted $400 million in 2014 Measure BB sales tax funds to Valley Link from the canceled BART to Livermore extension project and that the MTC is illegally funding Valley Link with bridge tolls that are supposed to pay for seismic retrofits.

Valley Link Executive Director Kevin Sheridan called the lawsuit "without merit" and said it "mischaracterizes" the project.

The next hearing for the case is set for early September.

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First phase of Valley Link enters federal grant program

Stakeholders laud approval as key project milestone

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Jun 22, 2022, 7:08 am

The Tri-Valley/San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority announced earlier this month that the Federal Transit Administration has approved entry of the Valley Link rail project Phase 1 into project development of the Capital Investment Grants program.

"Acceptance of Valley Link into the CIG program marks a key milestone in advancing this transformational project forward," said Veronica Vargas, chair of the transit authority board of directors in a statement. "This is the first, but critical step, in positioning Valley Link to compete for federal funding during a time when once-in-a generation transit funding is available on the federal level."

The 26-mile first phase of the project between the Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station in Alameda County and the Mountain House station in San Joaquin County, would connect tens of thousands of Northern San Joaquin Valley workers to the Tri-Valley, according to transit authority officials. The phase, including the Isabel and South Front Road stations in Livermore, is targeted for construction in 2025.

"I am so pleased that the Tri-Valley cities' Valley Link project was approved by the Federal Transit Administration. This will start the process for designing and operating a critical link between BART and the Altamont Corridor Express," U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) said in a statement.

"Approval of this project could translate to 30,000 fewer cars on the road each day. By reducing congestion and improving air quality, this would be the biggest climate rescue project ever in the Tri-Valley," he added.

Swalwell said that connecting BART to ACE has been among his "top priorities" since entering Congress. Last year, he helped secure from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee $20 million for Valley Link in its transportation spending bill.

The FTA approval of Valley Link into the CIG pipeline follows the March 23 unanimous adoption of Valley Link as part of the regional project priorities for the CIG program by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county Bay Area.

The full Valley Link rail project proposes to add a new 42-mile, seven station rail connection between the Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station and the North Lathrop ACE Station in San Joaquin County with all day service on BART frequencies during peak periods. The rail system is projected to provide an estimated 33,000 daily rides in 2040.

While project advancements continue, Valley Link is also currently in litigation.

Last month, the Alameda County Taxpayers' Association and the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit to stop the project's development, citing a number of concerns including allegations that the Alameda County Transportation Commission illegally shifted $400 million in 2014 Measure BB sales tax funds to Valley Link from the canceled BART to Livermore extension project and that the MTC is illegally funding Valley Link with bridge tolls that are supposed to pay for seismic retrofits.

Valley Link Executive Director Kevin Sheridan called the lawsuit "without merit" and said it "mischaracterizes" the project.

The next hearing for the case is set for early September.

Comments

Rich Buckley
Registered user
Livermore
on Jun 22, 2022 at 10:20 am
Rich Buckley, Livermore
Registered user
on Jun 22, 2022 at 10:20 am

It’s quite misdirecting for Kevin Sheridan of Valley Link to pose the only correct time to submit comment, was during the EIR, back in 2014! Only in 2021-22 has the City of Livermore started assigning public attention to look at the Light Rail project which is now only at 15% funded and still in the conceptual engineering layout stage. Nothing has been permanently determined. They are months and years away from what will be allowed to develop at the proposed stations. Public input is appropriate on every phase, in fact it is essential … one such input being (A) to abandon expensive sites and provide robust bus services from existing Wheels, and (B) another Alternative is to fund and build the promised BART line out to Altamont. (C) The only sure thing is the Transportation Lobby is one of the most powerful lobbies in the DC Beltway and it’s not going away no matter what, including War, Pandemic, or Biblical Flood.

I'm not against light rail. I just resent all the deceptions used by the politicians all the time, in everything they initiate. They always start by deception. Valley Link is no different. Things will start to become interesting when local communities (Livermore) actually demand from MTC what they want at the station sites. Valley Link has been acting for a few months as though that's irrelevant. Currently land selling along it's proposed right-of-way has sold for as much as $3-million+- per useable acre.

Going on 3 decades ago, we discussed developing balanced communities (Pods) in the Las Positas now no longer relevant. Pods were linked by roads. Community Pods today might be balanced with a combination of uses along US 580: USES: (1) Light rail stations (2) High Density Residential 5K to 7K+- populations (3) Professional Offices (4) Convenience Shopping (5) Eateries (6) Light rail repair and storage yards, (7) Expensive undergrounding of all PG&E even high voltage towers.

Valley Residents need to directly lead tone deaf MTC.


Rich Buckley
Registered user
Livermore
on Jun 22, 2022 at 10:53 am
Rich Buckley, Livermore
Registered user
on Jun 22, 2022 at 10:53 am

At this early stage, your input as a local valley resident will catch MTC management by surprise and get them organized to listen to you. MTC is more inclined to listen to a group of valley residents at this early stage than they are later. Once public hearings are "conducted" we all know from personal experience, they will do whatever they want and interpret the data and public comments however they want. It's the way these agencies function. Get used to it. If you want something you have to organize now.

Here's what I want to see, since I am not against light rail, I'm just against the politics I have to subject myself to in order to get them to listen.

(1) I want an easy to find public comment site on line, at MTC.
(2) I want it to be linked right off their home landing page.
(3) I want it to say "Dublin-Pleasanton-Livermore Light Rail Public Comments"
(4) I want it to have download links of all engineering and studies also easy to find.
(5) I want to be able to comment as often as I choose.
(6) I want my public comments to be included with all applications for funding and planning from the DC Beltway Lobby Beast. If I have to explain to you what the DC Beltway Lobby Beast is, we are lost before we even start. Call it the DCBLB but demand MTC include public comments with all DCBLB official communications.
(7) I want all communications with DCBLB made public.

That's all I want for now.


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