BART expansion to Livermore to be studied 

click to enlarge The BART board of directors Thursday is scheduled to vote on approving the study of an extension to Livermore. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • The BART board of directors Thursday is scheduled to vote on approving the study of an extension to Livermore.

BART last month chalked up a major accomplishment when the federal government pledged $900 million for an extension project to Silicon Valley. Now a similar expansion proposal — this one to Livermore — faces a far more uncertain future.

With no funding identified yet for the $3.8 billion project, BART is set to engage in an environmental study to determine what kind of service — be it light-rail, bus, or train — it can afford to provide for the East Bay expansion plan.

The agency is facing a 25-year capital shortfall of $7.5 billion, and that doesn’t include the $3.4 billion it needs to pay for its much-needed car replacement project.

Despite the agency’s funding uncertainties, BART board members are scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to conduct an environmental impact report on the Livermore extension project. The study will review all possible transit alternatives for the East Bay expansion. Potential funding sources, at the state and federal level, can also be pursued once the report is completed.

The possibilities include a full build-out of the BART system that would cost $1.2 billion to reach Livermore, and $3.83 billion to go further beyond, to Vasco Road. Other options include a light-rail system, a bus feeder service, or a scaled-back, cheaper version of BART’s train cars, similar to the system that is set to go in place for the agency’s other East Bay expansion past Pittsburg/Bay Point.

A ballot initiative is being proposed in Alameda County that would dedicate $400 million for the project, but it would need two-thirds approval from voters in the November election. And, unlike the Silicon Valley extension, BART would be responsible for paying the everyday operating costs of the project.

BART board President John McPartland, who represents the East Bay. said he has been a longtime advocate for the expansion, but he said he didn’t want to seek out funding that would come at the expense of capital needs and the car replacement project.

Bob Franklin, a fellow board member, said the EIR study will go a long way to answering questions about the project, but he added that it’s clear that the region doesn’t have the $3.8 billion needed for the full build-out of the plan.

“The reality of the matter is that we still have to find funding for our car replacement project, and that’s more of a pressing priority now than the Livermore extension,” said Franklin.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

BART exapansion at a glance

11.3 miles: Length of full Livermore extension project
31,900: Daily passengers that would use the expanded service
$3.83 billion: Cost of full extension project
$0: Funding secured for the project
$400 million: Funding available if Alameda County voters pass a proposed sales tax initiative

Source: BART, Alameda County Transportation Commission

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Will Reisman

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Tuesday, Aug 30, 2016

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