COMMUNITY INPUT NEEDED TO DETERMINE BEST ROUTE
February 5, 1991
By Yolanda Reynolds
The Santa Clara County Transit Agency has scheduled a series of community meetings to inform the public of the routes being considered for the extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to Santa Clara via downtown San Jose.
The Agency says that the meetings will allow the citizens to learn more about the possible routes, stations or regarding the Draft Environmental Reports.
According to County Board of Supervisor, Ron Gonzales a decision as to the preferred route will be made “early to mid-March” of this year.
Gonzales said that exactly when the extension will be constructed is not certain. Estimates for the actual construction of the extension range from ten to twenty years in the future. However as with most expensive and large projects determining the actual route of the long awaited extension of BART to San Jose will take place years in advance.
At this time it is estimated that the cost of extending BART to San Jose will be an estimated $1.5 billion.
The two routes under consideration for the BART extension follow the existing right of ways of the Southern Pacific rail route and the Union Paciﬁc rail route. Both of these rail lines are currently in use by their respective owners.
The Southern Pacific Route more closely parallels Highway 17 and reportedly was the favored route until Gonzales was elected to office. Gonzales, in his campaign for election, promised that the Eastside/Milpitas/ Berryessa area of that vast Supervisorial District (District 3) would not be overlooked in the development of mass transit services. Gonzales favors the Union Pacific Route (corridor) because he feels it would better serve the Milpitas/Berryessa/Eastside communities. The Union Paciﬁc corridor lies parallel to Lundy Avenue and King Road in east San Jose and then into downtown San Jose. Both the Southern Paciﬁc and Union Pacific corridors will go through downtown San Jose to the Cahill Station, and then on to Santa Clara. BART will go underground when it reaches the downtown area.
According to literature distributed by the County Transit Agency, the Southern Paciﬁc Route would cost around $300 million less than the U.P. corridor. Gonzales believes that those ﬁgures are not quite accurate and says that his staff has found that the estimated costs are very misleading and that, in fact both of the routes are, approximately similar in cost – as well as the expected environmental impact. More ridership is predicted on the Union Paciﬁc corridor.
The choice of corridor is very important. A report was made at the Latino Issues Forum, held several years ago in Santa Clara, entitled “The latino Work force in Santa Clara County: The Dilemmas of High Technology Change on A Minority Population” prepared by Dr. Edward Blakely a University of California professor of the Department of City and Regional Planning – in the report stated that in the (Santa Clara) VaIley there is emerging a “spatial division” of labor, where companies with new jobs are “seeking new venues, both within the metropolitan suburbs that are predominately white and in non-metropolitan areas of the County and nearby counties like Santa Cruz and Monterey, that have small minority populations.” In essence, where there will be jobs for which many Latinos are qualiﬁed, they will not be easily be able to reach the new employment areas, “the cost of transportation and strain on family life for relatively low wages and poor promotional prospects would make (such) options a poor choice.”
It is important, when planning major projects expected to link the city and counties together – that large and important neighborhoods are not overlooked or neglected.
The rail transit planting, taking place at this time, is particularly important for future generations. There is increasing talk of ﬁnding ways to curb the effects of pollution and congestion due to automobile traffic. It is likely that there will be increased gasoline taxes and fees charged for auto ownership.
Another major concern is the depletion of the world’s oil reserves. According to a September, 1990 Scientiﬁc America article, “about half-of the world’s oil is used by a fleet of a million road vehicles…” It is expected that if the increase in vehicle use continues at the current rate by the year 2030 there will 1 billion vehicles using even more gasoline – even if gasoline engines are made more efficient.
Oil is a non renewable resource and not found everywhere. According to a Wall Street Journal writer, David Stipp, “imported oil accounted for more than half the U.S. trade deficit last year.” The United States is also one of the highest per capita consumers of gasoline and pays the lowest price per gallon of the world’s major consumers of gasoline. According to the World Resources Institute the per capita yearly consumption in the United States in 1988 was 484 gallons at an average cost of $0.95 per gallon. In that year, Sweden followed the United States at 221 gallons per person per year at an average cost of $2.81 per gallon. Japan, in 1988, used 133 gallons per capita per year at a cost of $3.47 per gallon.
Gasoline will most likely become more expensive in the U.S. even if the United States and its allies are successful in the war against Saddam Hussein.
Though the United States has increased its energy efficiency somewhat. “43% of the 17 million barrels of oil Americans use daily is consumed as gas for cars”. Gasoline consumption is believed to be increasing so rapidly in this country because “more drivers are driving from and to ever more distant suburbs.”
Using mass transit, car pooling or other modes of transit, the gas powered single occupant car may soon become, not only the patriotic mode of transit but the only mode of transit, as oil resources are reduced.
The rail and transit plans now being made are not only to meet the Valley’s current needs, but for the future needs – 30 to 50 years into the future. Supervisor Gonzales and other elected officials are interested in learning from the community how best to meet the needs of the County’s residents as we plan our transit and employment needs for the County’s future generations.
Another Corridor under study is the East Corridor.
Feasibility to determine the viability of light rail transit in two separate corridors into eastern San Jose.
One such corridor is the Downtown/Evergreen Corridor which would link the existing light rail line with Eastridge Mall near Capitol Expressway and Tully Road via Senter Road and Capitol Expressway. The other corridor, Capitol, would link the proposed Tasman light rail extension to Eastridge Mall via Capitol Avenue and Capitol Expressway.
An efficient, affordable and accessible transit system is not only important for people wanting to get to work, but also inﬂuences corporate decisions which take into account the availability of talented and accessible workers.
Gonzales feel that the decision now facing the Board is very important to the citizens of the County especially those who would be impacted as potential users and neighbors to the BART extension. Gonzales is urging all who have a concern or wish to learn more about the proposed BART extension to attend any one of the scheduled meetings that are being held in the next two weeks. He also whishes to hear from the citizens on this matter.
Other officials who will also influence the final decision are San Jose Mayor, Susan Hammer and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor and Chair of the Transit District Board of Supervisors, Rod Diridon, County Board Supervisor, Dianne McKenna and San Jose City Councilman, Jim Beall who serves as Chairman of the National League of City Transportation and Communications Committee where he represents the League on Urban transit issues. They are some of the key decision makers in the County in matters related to transit issues.
If you are unable to make it to the meetings or wish to be sure that your opinion is known, letters can be sent to Supervisors Gonzales, Diridon and McKenna at 70 West Hedding Street, San Jose, California 95110 or Mayor Susan Hammer and Councilman Jim Beall at City of San Jose, 801 North First Street, San Jose, Ca 95110.