By Bryan Harrison - posted September 21, 2017
Tracy, CA – There is no question about the severity of commute traffic over the Altamont pass. Everyone concerned agrees something must be done, and soon.
On the heals of approval of Assembly-member Eggman’s AB-758 in the wee hours of September 16th, the Tracy City Council met the issue head-on at their September 19, 2017 board meeting.
The evening included an agenda item focused on moving forward with AB-758, an effort to fast-track a viable solution to ease commute traffic. introduced by Assembly-member Susan Eggman, and co-authored with Catherine Baker, AB-758 is designed to push through construction of a connector public rail system that will take commuters from San Joaquin County to BART.
What has long seemed nothing more than a pipe-dream in most circles, this bill calls for a new Joint Powers Authority (JPA) between municipalities in Alameda County and San Joaquin County tasked with developing a plan within an 18 month stretch to begin to build what’s being referred to as the DMU/EMU Regional Connection (Diesel Mobile Unit/Electric Mobile Unit).
The plan, which does not wait on the hope of BART’s extension to Livermore, “... seeks to develop a cost-effective connection between the ACE train and BART,” stated Ms. Eggman. “This is a problem that has impacts on the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area alike - two regions quickly becoming a mega-region,” she added. “We can and must do better and with interregional cooperation, we will.”
Tracy Mayor Pro-Tem, Veronica Vargas, has been at the forefront of the task-force, as the Working Group Chair, working jointly with Alameda County Supervisor, District 1, Scott Haggerty. Haggerty, who’s district encompasses a wide territory, from the Newark/Fremont area, Hayward, and east to Livermore, reaching the San Joaquin County border, was on-hand for the Tracy City Council meeting. He addressed the Council board with vigor, stating his intent to not only meet the mandate of 18 months (beginning January 1, 2018) to present a plan to the state, but is committed to being ready “to start turning dirt” to get the project started in that time frame.
He expressed adamantly that this will happen, and hopefully without delay. “From the Alameda County side, we own the right of way, including the tunnel,” he stated to the council.
Former Tracy Mayor and San Joaquin COG member, Mike Maciel, stated to the board “It’s not a good idea, it’s a great idea!”
“Alameda County needs this as much as San Joaquin County,” Haggerty told MH Matters outside of the board room afterward.
AB-758 sites credibile estimates of a 60% growth in traffic by 2040 over the Altamont. The bill creates a mandate for local government action, and states in part: “By imposing new duties on local governmental entities, this bill would create a state-mandated local program.
“The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
“This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.”
Additionally, Haggerty stated that Alameda County has already built some strong funding from sales taxes in their area, to the tune of $400 million, “just waiting to make this happen”. Vargas said that City of Tracy will post meeting notices moving forward on the city web site: www.ci.tracy.ca.us.
While there are many hurdles to cross, Haggerty, Vargas, Eggman and others are clearly driven to make this happen post-haste!