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Dumbarton Rail to lose $91m to help feed SJ BART money pit

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  • 9/17 Menlo Park Almanac
    Published Wednesday, September 17, 2008, by the Menlo Park Almanac Dumbarton Rail will likely lose funding By Rory Brown Unless there s a drastic change of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 17, 2008
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      Published Wednesday, September 17, 2008, by the Menlo Park Almanac

      Dumbarton Rail will likely lose funding

      By Rory Brown

      Unless there's a drastic change of events, it looks as if the
      Dumbarton Rail project will see $91 million of its funds diverted
      to plans to extend BART a step closer to San Jose.

      The seemingly inevitable transfer of funds throws a wrench in the
      longstanding goal to connect Menlo Park and Redwood City to the
      East Bay via rail service along a restored Dumbarton Rail Bridge.

      The Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Programs and Allocation
      Committee recommended on Sept. 10 to divert the Dumbarton Rail funds,
      collected through Regional Measure 2, to efforts to extend BART to
      Warm Springs. (Warm Springs is in southern Fremont, just north of
      the Santa Clara County border.)

      The committee's decision is the latest chapter in a fight between
      BART and Dumbarton Rail for limited Bay Area transit dollars.

      In July, members of the Dumbarton Rail Advisory Committee, made up of
      public officials from communities and agencies that would be served
      by the rail service, denounced the proposed transfer. They argued
      that moving the funds -- even on a temporary basis -- would delay,
      and effectively kill, efforts to get the estimated $600 million
      cross-Bay train line built.

      The full Metropolitan Transportation Commission is expected to vote
      on the matter on Sept. 24.

      'Not a disaster'

      Under the current Dumbarton Rail plan, six trains a day would take
      commuters form the East Bay to the Peninsula via a new bridge before
      connecting to the Dumbarton line through East Palo Alto and Menlo
      Park. Trains would connect to the Caltrain tracks in Redwood City,
      and would return to the East Bay in the evening.

      Although the project was already $300 million short of covering its
      estimated costs, it was originally slated to be built by 2012. The
      $91 million transfer, expected to be finalized Sept. 24, would
      further delay construction, but at least one supporter of the project
      is still optimistic.

      "This isn't a complete disaster," said Sue Lempert, the lone person
      on the MTC committee to vote against transferring the funds to BART.
      She noted that environmental analysis will still move forward on the
      project, and other commissioners seem to share enthusiasm for getting
      Dumbarton Rail funded in a somewhat timely manner.

      "As soon as the Dumbarton Bridge gets jammed up [with traffic],
      people are going to be asking what our options are, and Dumbarton
      Rail is the best option out there," she said. "We'll see what
      happens, but I'm hopeful. I'm optimistic."

      The MTC committee also recommended that funding be put aside to
      increase bus service across the Dumbarton Bridge as a short-term
      solution to ease traffic congestion, as well as provide an
      opportunity to study cross-Bay ridership.

      Susan Robinson, one of many Menlo Park residents keeping a close
      eye on Dumbarton Rail, has a different take on the committee's vote.
      She said she's happy to see an increase in bus service, but still
      questions that if the rail project is built, funds will be available
      to mitigate potential noise and vibration impacts of trains rumbling
      by Menlo Park homes.

      "Dumbarton Rail is getting more and more expensive, and there's less
      funding available," Ms. Robinson said. "With a bigger gap in funding,
      it'll be less and less likely that neighbors' concerns will be
      addressed."


      [BATN: See also:

      Column: MTC to revisit taking $91m from Dumbarton rail for BART
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39210

      Editorial: BART vs. Dumbarton rail; dysfunctional transit planning
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39011

      Warm Springs BART vs. Dumbarton Rail debate gets testy
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39010

      Should Warm Springs BART defund transbay Dumbarton rail?
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38995

      Editorial: Don't divert Dumbarton rail funds for costly SJ BART
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38945

      SCCo. Grand Jury advises VTA to pull Dumbarton rail funds
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38761

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