Critical Bay Area Transportation Projects Moving Ahead
Oakland Airport Connector Clears Final Hurdle
After decades of debate, the Oakland Airport Connector – a train system connecting BART to the Oakland Airport – cleared its final hurdle on Thursday when the BART Board of Directors voted to award $440 million in contracts to build and operate this unique public private partnership. The Connector – a landmark stimulus project receiving $70 million in federal funds – provides a critical missing link in the Bay Area’s transportation infrastructure system, taking cars off the road and creating 2,500 to 5,000 jobs starting in 2010 to construct the project. Jim Wunderman gave testimony at the hearing and the Bay Area Council is happy to see decades of work on the project come to fruition.
BART to San Jose Project Gets Boost
The long fought, Council supported BART to San Jose extension just got a huge shot in the arm when the Federal Transit Administration recommended it for federal “New Starts” funding. Once that federal funding (as much as $900 million) is approved, Santa Clara County will finalize the environmental document and can begin to collect a new 1/8 percent sales tax that County voters recently approved. Groundbreaking won’t be far behind. The first segment of the project is actually under construction, with the Shimmick/Skanska consortium hard at work building a tunnel on the leg from Fremont to Warm Springs. Thanks to Carl Guardino and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group for driving this important project.
Caldecott Tunnel Construction to Begin Next Month
Relief is coming to motorists in one of the Bay Area’s worst highway chokepoints, with a contract awarded in November to construct the new fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. Long recognized as a necessary transportation improvement, the project faced a frustrating setback in early 2009, when the state announced that it would not be able to provide the promised funds from Proposition 1B. Supporters refused to accept another delay, and a healthy contribution of federal stimulus funds put the project back on track. Opening of the new tunnel to traffic is expected in mid-2013.
There’s also hundreds of millions of dollars of federal stimulus dollars that are creating jobs and improving transportation through smaller projects throughout the Bay Area. In all, there’s almost $1 billion of federal stimulus dollars approved for Bay Area transportation projects. Even more is on the horizon, with the US Department of Transportation expected to announce projects that will be funded from two pots of stimulus funds (TIGER, and High Speed Rail) under its control. The Bay Area Council is working hard in Washington, DC to make sure that the Bay Area gets a healthy share of these funds to create jobs and improve mobility.