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39911HSRA may not pay to reach downtown SF Transbay Transit Center

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  • 11/12 SF Examiner
    Nov 12, 2008
      Published Wednesday, November 12, 2008, by the San Francisco Examiner

      Transbay Transit Center going off track

      Pricey proposal: It would cost $2 billion to extend Caltrain to the
      planned Transbay Transit Center.

      By Katie Worth

      Statewide bullet trains have been presented by transit officials
      as the silver bullet The City needs to finally bring rail transit
      downtown, but some are questioning whether a necessary extension
      should receive financial help from bonds for high-speed rail
      approved by voters Nov. 4.

      Proposition 1A, passed in last week's election, authorized $9.95
      billion in bond money for a high speed-rail line that would take
      passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a mere 2.5 hours.
      In anticipation of the project, the first phase of the new Transbay
      Transit Center is being built with the assumption that a major rail
      corridor will connect to the new terminal.

      However, that would necessitate a $2 billion, 1.3-mile extension of
      Caltrain's tracks from their current terminus at Fourth and King
      streets in Mission Bay to downtown's Transbay Transit Center at First
      and Mission streets, as well as a "train box" -- a massive space
      underneath the bus terminal big enough to hold six rail platforms
      and tracks -- that could later be tunneled into and developed into
      a station for Caltrain and high-speed trains.

      Transbay Joint Powers Authority spokesman Adam Alberti said the
      authority began lobbying for funds from the high-speed rail bond
      in a letter issued last month.

      But at least one authority has eschewed the possibility that high-
      speed rail will pay for the extension.

      "We do not need First and Mission. I am satisfied with Fourth and
      Townsend," said Judge Quentin Kopp, chairman of the High Speed Rail
      Authority. "We are not going to pay an extra billion-plus dollars
      to take the high-speed rail an extra 1.4 miles."

      The extension will have to be resolved -- and funded -- by The City
      and Caltrain, he said.

      But spokeswoman Christine Dunn said Caltrain has not considered
      devoting any funds to the project, and it would have to be funded
      by The City and the Transbay project.

      Jerry Hill, a member of Transbay's board of directors and state
      Assembly member-elect, said that though Transbay hopes to secure
      some funding for the extension from the high-speed rail, they are
      not seeing the project as a "cash cow," and the success of neither
      high-speed rail nor the Transbay Transit Center depends on the

      Rod Diridon, Kopp's colleague on the High Speed Rail Authority,
      said it would be a shame if high-speed rail did not reach downtown.

      Future rail projects

      Caltrain wants to link to the planned Transbay Transit Center.

      * $9.95 billion: Bond funding for high-speed rail approved by voters
      Nov. 4

      * 1.3 miles: Proposed underground downtown extension of Caltrain
      commuter rail line

      * 6: Trains and platforms to be accommodated by proposed train
      station under the new Transbay Transit Center

      * $2 billion: Unfunded cost to extend the Caltrain commuter rail line
      from Fourth and King streets to the new Transbay Transit Center

      Sources: Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Caltrain, California High
      Speed Rail Authority, BayRail Alliance