This $400 million diversion of Alameda County taxes is part of a relentless effort on the part of mostly non-elected local and regional public officials to abrogate the constitutional rights of Bay Area citizens by diverting funds earmarked for projects approved by the voters to other purposes. In most instances actions designed to alter ballot measure votes are preceded by backroom “stakeholder” meetings, committee meetings & “workshops” invariably used to sell a project or program favored by insiders. Unfortunately these sessions often become opportunities to sell pet ideas to agencies and business groups with one-sided presentations before anyone is burdened by having to cope with countervailing opinions.
In 2014 the voters of Alameda County approved Measure BB funds to improve the Tri-Valley’s access to BART. Now, the Alameda County Transportation Authority (ACTC) is being asked to divert $400,000,000 of these Measure BB funds to building a mostly single-track Valley Link rail line to San Joaquin County. BATWG, as dedicated to improving Bay Area mobility as it is, opposes this action for the following reasons:
o The $400 million directed to the BART-to-Livermore project, the single largest cost item in Measure BB, was intended to improve Pleasanton’s and especially Livermore’s access to BART. Valley Link does little to achieve that objective. Instead, by helping mostly San Joaquin County it would result in a major shift of transportation benefits from Alameda County residents to non-Alameda County residents. This is a fundamental change from what the Alameda County voters voted for in 2014, and it goes without saying that $400,000,000 diverted to help San Joaquin County are funds denied to important Alameda County projects.
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o There is no commitment from San Joaquin County to provide funding for the project; the message is only that we “will look for funding” Under the circumstances there is no reason for Alameda County taxpayers to be standing at the front of the line when it comes to paying the bill.
o The Alternatives Analysis presented to justify Valley Link is fatally flawed. For one thing it does not consider an efficient network of buses designed to improve access to BART and other Tri-Valley non-automotive travel needs. An effective, out-of-congestion bus service patterned after the popular hi-tech buses would provide a very flexible way of responding to this need , cutting capital and operating costs in the process. The Valley Link proposal’s only bus alternative consists of a single bus line duplicating the proposed rail line route over the Altamont Pass to Tracy, a weak alternative set up to be quickly and easily eliminated, leaving only the Valley Link itself for consideration. Viable bus alternatives should be fairly and objectively evaluated before any funding approvals are made. As now constituted the Valley Link proposal offers little of benefit to the residents of Alameda County.
This proposal is extremely ill-considered. When regional local and officials indulge in this kind of chicanery, it helps no one. Given the excessive cost of extending BART beyond the East Dublin station, the best and cheapest way of meeting the objectives set forth in Measure BB would be via an efficient, out-of-traffic congestion bus network. The Alameda County Transportation Authority (ACTA) should refrain from releasing any Measure BB funds to the sponsors of the Valley Link line at this time.