BART, an Agency in Dire Need of Oversight

On June 21, 2019, pursuant to State Senator Steve Glazer’s SB1488, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Harriet Richardson from among three candidates selected by the BART Board to be BART’s first Inspector General (IG). The job calls for the IG to oversee and report upon BART activities and expenditures. What BART apparently didn’t anticipate was that Ms. Richardson would actually attempt to do her job. But the cat was soon out of the bag.

On July 7, 2022 the Alameda County Grand Jury released scathing 8-page report on how BART was treating its State-appointed IG, detailing how BART’s management and Board of Directors have aggressively interfered with, resisted and undermined the work of the IG. Anyone whose watches how BART goes through money will well understands the need for an independent BART IG. So what’s next? Will things get better?

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The Big Distraction

On August 25, 2022, California Air Resources Board and the Governor of California released their latest climate control fantasy. They propose to combat climate change by banning the sale of all new internal combustion vehicles in California, beginning in 2035. While this may seem like a step in the right direction, the new edict is so full of holes that a diesel truck could drive through it. First, people can keep driving fossil fuel autos long after 2035. Second, they can continue buying used fossil fuel cars after 2035. And last but not least, most people buying electric cars will dispose of their old gas guzzlers by selling them as they always have in the used car market, there to be resold to less affluent buyers in other parts of the country or world. This will guarantee that the discarded vehicles will continue spewing out green house gasses for many tens of thousands of additional miles and many more years.

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SPECIAL BULLETIN: Avert I-580/I-680 Gridlock in the Tri-Valley

Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin residents have until November 1st to protest the dumping of thousands more Central Valley “cut-through” commuters onto local streets.

(See: https://205managedlanes.com/ and https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-10/district-10-current-projects/10-1h170.  The “Notice of Preparation” is found here: https://dot.ca.gov/-/media/dot-media/district-6/documents/d6-environmental-docs/10-1h170/10-1h170-nop-1021-a11y.pdf)

Caltrans has issued a “Notice of Preparation” of environmental reports for widening of the entire 15-mile length of I-205, from I-5 through Tracy to I-580, into an eight-lane freeway.  It now has six lanes.

Five westbound lanes presently narrow into the four westbound lanes of I-580 through congested Altamont Pass (three from I-205, two from I-580). This project would add a sixth lane funneling into Altamont Pass.  As I-580 through Altamont Pass would not be enlarged, the new traffic would seek alternatives via Altamont Pass Road, Patterson Pass Road, and Corral Hollow/Tesla Road and traverse Livermore and Pleasanton neighborhood streets to return to I-580 or to gain access I-680 or SR 84 (Vallecitos Road), which itself is planned to be widened to a four-lane expressway.

To compound the impending traffic tsunami, SR 120 will be widened into a six-lane freeway between I-5 and SR 99, adding more Lathrop and Manteca traffic to I-205.

A widened I-205 would dump thousands of additional cars onto Tri-Valley streets.  Why haven’t local politicians (e.g., Supervisors David Haubert and Nate Miley; Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore City Councils) alerted their constituents about the impacts of the impending project?  Perhaps it is because they will be out of office long before the voters of Tri-Valley feel its negative effects. Therefore, to fend off the destructive effects of the Caltrans plan, citizens must themselves be heard now. 

Comments are due by November 1st by email to scott.guidi@dot.ca.gov, or by mail to Scott Guidi, Caltrans, District 10, 1976 East Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Stockton, CA  95205.

BATWG also encourages citizens to contact local city councils to ask them to take positions on the I-205 expansion: cityclerk@cityoflivermore.netcitycouncil@cityofpleasantonca.govcouncil@dublin.ca.gov.

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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