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SCCo. Grand Jury advises VTA to pull Dumbarton rail funds

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  • 6/12 Fremont Bulletin
    Published Thursday, June 12, 2008, by the Fremont Bulletin Grand jury recommends not funding Dumbarton rail By Wes Bowers The Santa Clara County Civil Grand
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 16, 2008
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      Published Thursday, June 12, 2008, by the Fremont Bulletin

      Grand jury recommends not funding Dumbarton rail

      By Wes Bowers

      The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury last week issued a report
      citing concerns it had with the proposed Dumbarton Rail Project
      and for the time being at least recommended not moving forward.

      In the report <http://tinyurl.com/4cbr7n>, the grand jury stated
      the project's initial 2004 cost estimate of $300 million had more
      than doubled. The Dumbarton Rail Project <http://tinyurl.com/3eh7qh>
      is a proposed passenger rail service that would span the southern
      portion of San Francisco Bay, connecting communities from the West
      Bay to the East Bay, in particular Fremont and Union City.

      Because of this cost increase, the grand jury believed the estimated
      completion date of 2012 will not be met since additional funds have
      not been identified or approved by any agency involved.

      As a result, the grand jury recommended Santa Clara Valley
      Transportation Authority Board of Directors not proceed with
      additional funding until alternatives have been identified.
      Additionally, VTA should evaluate the county's $44 million
      commitment to the over all project in terms of benefits received.

      Linh Hoang, a VTA spokesperson, said the agency has 90 days to
      respond to the grand jury's report. She added while the VTA board
      recommended a partial funding of $2 million to the project last
      year, future funding will now be contingent upon new analysis.

      "Based on this initial review, there were no surprises," she said.
      "VTA staff and board members had raised concerns at project meetings.

      "At this time, before VTA approves any more funds, we have to be
      prudent and make sure the project is feasible," she said.

      In 2004, voters from seven Bay Area counties approved Regional
      Measure 2, which is part of the overall Regional Traffic Relief
      Plan that includes the Dumbarton Rail Project and the Bay Area
      Rapid Transit extension project.

      If built, the Dumbarton Rail Project would see a new rail bridge
      crossing the bay that would replace the existing structure. Six
      daily westbound trains would depart in the morning and connect to
      the existing Caltrain line along the peninsula. Using that line,
      three rail trains would travel to San Francisco while the other
      three would travel to San Jose.

      In the afternoon, all six trains would head back to Union City. A
      Centerville train station would be one of four directly served by
      the new rail line, reports state.

      An advisory committee for the project was formed in 2004. The group
      maintained that a project design would be completed by 2009. As
      planned, the rail project's funding would be approved in 2010,
      and the final design and construction would be done by 2012.

      Grand jury reports indicate the Metropolitan Transportation
      Commission recently reported original project cost estimates have
      increased to $600 million, with additional funding not determined.

      Furthermore, one segment of the project involving the Newark-Union
      City line is dependent on reaching an agreement with Union Pacific
      Railroad for the use of its line.

      The grand Jury reported no such agreement has been reached after
      "years of discussion."

      Because of the funding gap and legal issue with the railroad,
      the grand jury said the project would not be completed on time.

      Dumbarton Rail Corridor project management has been reviewing
      alternatives if these issues are not met, including building
      portions of the project that would only use current committed funds.

      Another issue is ridership data. In 2004, project managers claimed
      daily ridership would be 5,600 in 2010 and 12,800 by 2030.

      However, the MTC reported in 2005 there was a 97 percent drop in
      commuter traffic delay times from the original study.

      Additionally, a San Francisco Bay Area Regional Rail Plan
      <http://www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/rail> study in 2007 indicated
      very low ridership potential for the project.


      [BATN: See also:

      Dumbarton Rail may be sacrificed to help SJ BART, Pacheco HSR
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38755

      SCCo. civil grand jury questions VTA's Dumbarton rail contribution
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38710

      SMCo. Grand Jury defends Dumbarton rail report (18 Jan 01)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/420

      SMCo. Grand Jury challenges Dumbarton rail project (13 Dec 00)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/149

      SMCo. Grand Jury questions Dumbarton rail plan (13 Dec 00)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/147

      SMCo. Grand Jury's Dumbarton Rail Project report (6 Dec 00)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/105

      Report questions SMCo. Dumbarton rail funding (7 Dec 00)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/103

      SMCo Grand Jury questions Dumbarton rail funding (7 Dec 00)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/96 ]
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