SCCo. Grand Jury advises VTA to pull Dumbarton rail funds
- 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
SCCo. civil grand jury questions VTA's Dumbarton rail contribution
SMCo. Grand Jury defends Dumbarton rail report (18 Jan 01)
SMCo. Grand Jury challenges Dumbarton rail project (13 Dec 00)
SMCo. Grand Jury questions Dumbarton rail plan (13 Dec 00)
SMCo. Grand Jury's Dumbarton Rail Project report (6 Dec 00)
Report questions SMCo. Dumbarton rail funding (7 Dec 00)
SMCo Grand Jury questions Dumbarton rail funding (7 Dec 00)