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Newsom call for Transbay "train box" not meant to delay project

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    Published Friday, January 30, 2009, by the San Francisco Chronicle Lost in translation? Newsom s train box demand worries AC Transit By Rachel Gordon Mayor
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 30, 2009
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      Published Friday, January 30, 2009, by the San Francisco Chronicle

      Lost in translation?
      Newsom's 'train box' demand worries AC Transit

      By Rachel Gordon

      Mayor Gavin Newsom made some statements from Paris this week
      <http://www.sfgov.org/site/mayor_index.asp?id=97392> that
      made officials with the AC Transit transbay bus agency nervous.

      Newsom, who toured France's high-speed rail system, used the
      opportunity to demand that a "train box" be included in the
      construction of the new Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco
      so the project would be ready to accommodate rail service, if and
      when the funding becomes available.

      The terminal is to serve as the west-bay bus station for AC Transit,
      and, perhaps one day, the northern terminus of a high-speed rail
      system linking San Francisco and Los Angeles and for a new Caltrain
      station.

      Newsom said the idea of constructing the rail infrastructure after
      the first phase of the Transbay Terminal is completed -- in effect,
      having to undertake a large, disruptive excavation project under the
      new terminal later on -- doesn't make sense. But that's just what the
      Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the government entity overseeing the
      project, is contemplating.

      "We should not spend $2 billion to build a glorified bus station,"
      Newsom said in a statement released by his office Tuesday.

      Hold on, said Ryan "Rocky" Fernandez, president of the AC Transit
      Board of Directors. He shot off a letter to Newsom Wednesday. "AC
      Transit is concerned about recent media statements attributed to you
      which intimates an intention to slow or halt the Transbay Terminal
      Project pending further commitments for a high-speed rail component."

      Fernandez told Newsom that if he wants the first phase of the Transbay
      Terminal project delayed until funding is secured for the rail piece,
      terms of an agreement between AC Transit and the Transbay board may
      be "threatened or violated." He asked the mayor to clarify his
      intentions.

      City Insider, not wanting to wait for Newsom to get back from his
      trip to Europe, asked Michael Cohen, one of the mayor's pointmen on
      the Transbay Project, to explain. "The mayor is not suggesting that
      the Transbay Project be delayed," Cohen said. Instead, he said,
      "the mayor is suggesting that we all figure out how -- with state
      and federal funding -- we can get that train box in there in the
      first phase of construction."

      And what would Newsom's position be if the money, an estimated
      $388 million, for the train box is not found in time for construction
      to begin in about 1.5 years from now? "I don't know the answer to
      that," Cohen said.


      [BATN: See also:

      Newsom: SF Transbay Terminal must include HSR, Caltrain station
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/40355

      After TGV tour, Newsom says HSR vital to SF Transbay Project
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/40354 ]
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