BART to Livermore Extension Project

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BART to Livermore Extension Project

UPDATE

 On May 24, 2018, the BART Board of Directors considered the BART to Livermore Extension Project. There was a strong showing of support for BART to Livermore at the meeting with about three quarters of the 54 speakers supporting an extension of conventional BART to Livermore. Many Livermore residents and business groups attended the meeting and supported BART to Livermore. Despite overwhelming support for an extension of conventional BART to Isabel, the BART Board of Directors elected to certify the project’s environmental impact report but failed to agree on a project alternative to advance. A conventional BART extension to Livermore failed by a 4-5 vote of the BART Board. The Express bus/BRT alternative also failed to get a majority vote. The Board directed BART staff not to return at a future meeting with a recommended project for approval, but rather let the newly formed Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority conduct further transit planning in the Livermore area.

On May 14, 2018 the City Council approved the Isabel Neighborhood Specific Plan contingent on the BART Board of Directors approving an extension of conventional BART to Isabel. Since BART rejected the Livermore Extension, the Isabel Neighborhood Plan will not go into effect. 

Background 

BART prepared a project-level environmental impact report (EIR) for the “BART to Livermore Extension Project", which consists of a 5.5-mile extension of the BART rail line along the median of I-580 from the existing Dublin/Pleasanton Station to a new station in the vicinity of the Isabel Avenue interchange. The Project would also incorporate improvements to the local bus system, connections with inter-regional rail service, and parking. This project-level EIR builds upon the program-level EIR prepared in 2010, which looked at 10 alignment alternatives. The project-level EIR evaluates the construction of the transit infrastructure, including the BART station and associated parking lots, as well as the operation of new connecting bus services, and a new storage yard and maintenance shop facility in North Livermore. 

The City of Livermore provided this comment letter on the draft EIR. The BART to Livermore Project Draft EIR was available for public review through October 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM. The Draft EIR, and other project information are available at: www.bart.gov/livermore.

BART’s Project Goals

BART’s primary goals for the proposed extension to Livermore include the following:

  • Provide an affordable, effective, and convenient inter-regional and intermodal transit link from the existing BART system to:
    • Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) stations
    • Key destinations in Livermore, including Downtown and the labs
  • Provide an alternative travel mode for automobile commuters that use I-580
    • Reduce traffic congestion
    • Improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Create opportunities for transit-oriented development and local investment

The San Francisco Bay Area Regional Rail Plan (2007) recommends the extension of BART service to Livermore, recognizing it as a logical terminus of the system. Travel demand has continued to grow along the corridor, contributing to traffic congestion. The parking lots at the existing Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station fill up early.

The proposed project is the extension of BART to Isabel Avenue. The “Keep BART on I-580 Initiative”, adopted by Livermore’s City Council in 2011, calls for a second Livermore station in the vicinity of Greenville Road. The currently proposed project does not preclude the Greenville extension, which may be considered at a later time.

Alternatives Analysis 

In addition to studying the proposed extension of conventional (or full) BART service to Isabel, BART also developed conceptual plans for three alternative transit modes/technologies. These alternatives to the proposed project include:

  1. Diesel Multiple Unit or Electric Multiple Unit (DMU/EMU) alternative, which is a rail vehicle that uses similar technology as the eBART extension in Contra Costa County. A new DMU/EMU station would be constructed in the vicinity of Isabel Avenue interchange, and passengers would transfer from the DMU/EMU line to BART service at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.
  2. Enhanced Bus alternative, which utilizes signal priority and other technology to provide improvements to existing bus services that connect Livermore to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. No new rail lines would be constructed.
  3. Express Bus/Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) alternative, which would employ existing high-occupancy vehicle lanes and a new direct bus-to-BART transfer at the Dublin/Pleasanton Station to optimize bus service from Livermore and San Joaquin County.

BART’s project-level EIR evaluates the environmental impacts of these three alternatives, in addition to the extension of full BART service to Isabel Avenue. In contrast to BART’s EIR, the City’s program-level EIR evaluated implementation of the Isabel Neighborhood Plan, including land use development and construction of associated improvements to public infrastructure within the Plan Area. The City’s Isabel Neighborhood Plan is based on the extension of conventional BART service ("Full BART"), not the other alternative modes of transit.        

BART to Livermore Project Costs and Funding

According to the project-level EIR, the proposed BART to Isabel extension project is estimated to cost $1.6 billion in 2024 dollars (midpoint of construction). This estimate could change based on the final project design and timing of actual construction.

Several sources of funding have been allocated to the project, including: regional bridge toll funds, sales tax revenues from Alameda County’s Measure BB (2014), and City of Livermore development impact fees. There is about $533 remaining for the project from these sources.

For the balance of project costs, BART could seek funding from other regional and federal sources. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) administers federal funds through the Regional Transportation Planning process, which occurs every four years as part of Plan Bay Area. Plan Bay Area establishes performance measures to guide the allocation of some sources of transportation funding (http://www.planbayarea.org/). These policies are similar to BART's system expansion criteria and are generally consistent with General Plan policies aimed at creating high quality neighborhoods with good transit access and a mix of land uses and housing types.

BART relies on separate funding sources for initial construction and the ongoing expenses of operating and maintaining the system. County sales and property tax revenue generated in Livermore and allocated to BART has been collected to pay for operations, maintenance, and seismic upgrades of the current system. Beyond initial construction of the system, all BART extensions in the Bay Area have relied on securing new regional, state, and/or federal sources for the projects.

For more information on the BART extension project, please visit their website at: http://www.bart.gov/about/projects/liv.