Plans, Plans and More Plans

At the present time there are a number of regional plans ongoing in the Bay Area. Currently it takes years to get through the planning/environmental clearance process to project design, construction and start-up, consistent with available short-term, mid-term and long-term funding. There is an overriding need to streamline this process, in part by:

  • Integrating the plans, at least to the extent of eliminating unnecessary duplication and overlap

  • Taking a good honest look at each potentially viable alternative, while at the same time decisively and expeditiously discarding the ones that are clearly impractical
  • Setting and following definitive schedules, right from the start
  • In the name of accuracy and realism, insisting that cost estimates, schedules and budgets be prepared and monitored by experienced professionals

BATWG will have more to say on how the Region would benefit from expedited and more effective capital improvement programming and execution in subsequent issues of this newsletter.

Making “Seamless Transit” Real

The subject, previously dubbed “integrated transit systems”, (now shortened to “seamless transit”), has been discussed for decades.

Yet, even though Seamless Transit is supported in principle by almost everyone, not much has changed. (The Salesforce Transit Center is an exception, but even there the trains are still missing). The region’s assorted transit systems are mostly just as chopped up and disconnected as ever. Various reasons are advanced for this.

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MTC Begins Final Phase for Plan Bay Area 2050

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) released its draft Bay Area 2050 Plan on July 8, 2020. Following that milestone, public review and comment over the summer led to modifi­cations and additions that are now being incorporated. These modifications escalated the Plan’s price tag by $668 billion, demon­strating the challenge of building support among the 100 government entities around the Bay. The final Plan Bay Area 2050 is expected to be adopted by the fall of 2021.

The Plan anticipates that the nine-county Bay Area will add 2.5 million new residents and 1.33 million new jobs between 2020 and 2050. The Plan envisions that by 2050 the Bay Area will be affordable, connected, diverse, healthy and vibrant. These aspirations are expressed through thirty-five strategies defined as policies or bundles of investments, clustered under eleven categories:

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VTA’s Santa Clara Street Subway Goes Off the Rails

The estimated price of building the 4.8 mile BART extension through San Jose has increased again. It’s now up to $6.86 billion and rising. This all started because of downtown demands that the entire subway be built with no construction impact on Santa Clara Street. This short-sighted demand apparently stemmed from the misguided belief that constructing the two downtown stations using the standard cut-and-cover methods used all over the world for station construction would bring Santa Clara Street to a halt for the entire 4 to 6 year construction period. This is not true. As shown in the section below, at no time would the street be entirely closed. Here’s how it’s normally done.  First, one half the street is excavated and decked over, after which the traffic is shifted to the decked half while the other half of the street is similarly excavated and decked. This phase of the project can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. Once the wooden decking is in place and traffic again flowing, the major below-grade construction work begins. At the end of the job the permanent new roadway is reconstructed, again in a relatively short amount of time and again while keeping at least half the street operating at all times.

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