Momentum is building in the Legislature for a bill co-authored by Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) that would formally establish a Tri-Valley-San Joaquin County rail authority to drive the connection between BART and the ACE trains in Livermore.

The bill, AB 758, was amended in the Assembly and then passed without any opposition. It was a bipartisan bill from the start with Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) joining Baker. Catharine was pleased to build a wide range of support of the measure, which she hopes will become a model for inter-regional cooperation.

The original bill would have taken all BART monies dedicated to the Livermore extension and transferred them to the rail authority along with the responsibility to build the connection.
The revised bill removes those teeth, but does establish the authority and require it to submit an annual report on the progress of the connection between ACE and BART in the Tri-Valley. Both systems already operate in the Livermore Valley, but there’s no effective link.

The link that would be ideal is for BART to extend to a station with the ACE line in eastern Livermore near Greenville Road. The BART extension will not help Silicon Valley commuters, but would be huge for people headed for jobs in the Tri-Valley employment centers. They could seamlessly transfer from ACE to BART and stay off Interstate 580.

The 14-member board has been carefully designed to include representatives from the two counties, six cities, both rail agencies, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (Wheels) as well as business groups Innovation Tri-Valley, the East Bay Leadership Council and the San Joaquin Partnership.
Baker was particularly enthusiastic about the formal inclusion of the business community.

She anticipates that the bill will be taken up by Senate committees in July and plans for additional amendments to add “building blocks” back into the measure. She hopes to see the same broad range of support in the Senate and will be ready to “listen and figure out how to get to yes” if any unforeseen issues surface.

Her bill has plenty of support from the Tri-Valley elected officials who are frustrated by the lack of progress by BART. With only one representative on the nine-member board, pushing for this extension is an uphill battle despite the traffic congestion on I-580 through the valley.

Author: Tim Hunt