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Santa Clara Grand Jury Questions Dumbarton Rail Project

By Matt Artz
Friday, June 6th, 2008 at 2:21 pm in Fremont, Newark, Union City.

This is courtesy of my favorite Niles chat group. The Santa Clara County Grand Jury has released a brief report questioning whether the county should continue its support and funding of the Dumbarton Rail Project.

For a reminder, the project would run trains from the Union City BART Station across the Bay to Redwood City and then on to San Jose and San Francisco. But the price of the project has doubled and other problems have surfaced.

It’s also a big bone of contention between Union City and Fremont. Union City desperately wants the project to go forward because it would help cement its BART station as a regional transportation hub.

Fremont hates it because it thinks the train line would be a big waste of money (it wouldn’t save much time on the current bus service) and that it would divert money needed for extending BART to San Jose. It’s also very unpopular in parts Niles that would be stuck with a lot more freight train traffic.

For the report, click here.

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Doug

    Soon after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake all eyes turned to the old Dumbarton Bridge rail line and talk of a train to the Peninsula began. I wrote to Delaine Eastin, who was representing Alameda County in the State Assembly. I prophesied we would see a man land on Mars before we had rail service to the Peninsula. The recent success of the Phoenix probe on Mars shows we are progressing on that front; wish I could say the same for rail service to the Peninsula.

  • Lisa

    Doug, I guess you do not live in Niles. For us this will be HELL! You trying sleeping with heavy freight trains chugging by your house at all hours of the night. Before you ask why “we” would buy near tracks, even if you are many blocks away, that doesn’t stop the loud horns from blowing at all intersections. Use the bus!!!!!!!

  • Doug

    Lisa, I’m very familiar with heavy freight trains chugging by all hours of the night. The SPRR sits directly behind our home and next year will be several hundred feet closer to us with its relocation; closer still will be the BART extension to Warm Springs. I am not saying, “not in my backyard”, because it already is.
    The commuter trains planned were two in the morning and two in the evening commute hour, not all night long, and not 30-plus cars in length.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Lisa, I also am perfectly familiar with the train line running through Niles and Centerville, because it runs directly adjacent to the apartment complex in which I live. As I said the last time I appeared before a public hearing: BUILD THIS LINE. BUILD IT NOW. It’s amazingly overdue. As a Fremont resident, I despair of my city’s obstruction of a vital regional transportation link that should have been built years ago. I’m sick of having to commute across the Dumbarton Bridge, but I won’t ride buses any significant distance: They wander all over the place and get stuck in traffic, and besides, the Dumbarton Express doesn’t go where I need to go anyway; I’d have to transfer to Caltrain, and the schedules don’t link properly. I’d much rather get on a train that goes across the bay, then continues north at Redwood City to San Francisco, including where I’m going. (Some trains would turn south instead.)

    Too many people objecting to this project seem to think that it merely replaces an existing bus service. It’s much more than that. The trains won’t just go to Redwood City and stop there — they will keep going, providing one-seat, no-transfer service up and down the Peninsula. Even if the transit time from Union City to Palo Alto isn’t much different from the Dumbarton Express, the TOTAL transit time to other points up and down the line would decrease because you wouldn’t have to wait around at Palo Alto for a connection.

    Yes, in my back yard, please.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for your input guys, but as you may know, the issue that I am having a problem with is not the commuter trains that will be running across the bay, it is all the diverted freight trains that will be running through NILES! Where did you think those other trains were going to run????? Well I will tell you, through NILES all hours of the night. No thanks! Sorry!

  • Doug

    A snippet of history – “The Central Pacific constructed a freight terminal at the west end of the canyon and a town quickly sprang up around it. The town was named for Addison C. Niles, a prominent judge and former railroad attorney”, (thanks to http://www.ncry.org/history.htm).

    Niles exists because of the railroad so it’s ironic to have its residents’ take issue with trains.

    The problem with noisy trains lies more with the train engineers who have decided to change profession without changing venue. There are several who now think they are musicians and feel 2 a.m. is the perfect time to perform their rendition of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” on their horn as they make their way across Fremont.

    My wife and I have lived near a major RR crossing since 1975. It’s only the last several years we have been awakened by the excruciatingly lengthy “tunes” of passing trains. No coincidence that this only occurs in the middle of the night. If I didn’t know better I’d say it was a contest to see who can toot the horn the longest knowing there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

    One final question – what effect will the escalating price of diesel fuel have on trains efficiency?

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Doug:

    As a transportation professional (I’m a solutions engineer for a supply-chain management company, speaking for myself and not my employer), I believe that the escalating price of diesel fuel will drive more freight to the rails. While the railroads’ fuel prices are and will continue to increase, the increase per unit weight of freight moved will be far less than it will be for less-fuel-efficient forms of transportation like trucks. We already see trucking companies shifting more of their long-haul freight to trains when possible. This trend will almost certainly continue, I think.

  • worble

    Hey Lisa

    What about the move of the old train station that you guys in niles moved a few years back and now are spending money to move it back to original spot so you can have rtain rides into the canyon on weekends. how can you niles people spend money on a project like this when niles elementry school is infested with mice and rats,bats and you send your kids to school there.Where does niles get there money from for these stupid projects. No to the A’s in fremont. Put the ballpark in niles backyard if you people want it so bad.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Worble:

    I don’t think your criticism is fair. You make the false assumption that all money is completely fungible. That is, if you don’t spend money on X, you can spend it on Y. Surely you know that’s not the case. If a group goes out and raises funds and lines up grants for project X, the money goes for that project. If they don’t do the work, then it’s not like the money magically reappears for project Y.

  • worble

    Hey Kevin

    You must live in niles and drive around fremont with blinders on.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Worble:

    I happen to live in Centerville, within easy walking distance of the Centerville train station. I am so grateful of the resources that were spent to move and restore that station, and to double the tracks through Centerville. I use that station to catch trains already.

    (For instance, I had to fly out of Oakland Airport recently. Instead of driving to OAK and paying for parking there, I took the train to Coliseum Station and the AirBART shuttle to the airport. I paid less overall burned less fuel, and removed two auto trips from the roads.)

    If we had Dumbarton Rail, I’d take it every day, removing two more trips across the Dumbarton or San Mateo bridge to get to my job in San Mateo. As it stands now, using existing services like the misnamed Dumbarton “Express” is completely impractical for me.

    Anyway, getting back to your point: Do you _really_ believe that you can reprogram resources freely the way you seem to imply? If you have a group of people willing to spend their time and effort on project X, they may not (and probably will not) be willing to spend their time and money on project Y, no matter how worthy you think it is.

    You seem to think that you can say “We shouldn’t do X, so you all should go work on Y instead.” What you don’t seem to see is that your choice isn’t necessarily between X and Y, but between X and NOTHING. Let’s say we kill project X because you think it’s a waste of resources. Okay, the people and money for that project go away. But those resources weren’t fungible, so you STILL don’t get project Y, and now you don’t have X either.

    Possibly you’d rather have everyone be unhappy than to have some people be happy and some not. Maybe that’s what you consider “fair.”

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Oh, and incidentally, Worble: I think putting a ballpark for the As anywhere in Fremont other than adjacent to a BART station is a terrible idea. I don’t think the people who talk about “bus shuttles to BART” have any idea of how difficult it is to move large amounts of people by bus over already-crowded streets. I also suspect that these people have never attended an As or Giants game by taking BART or Caltrain. They Just Don’t Get It. Buses are not an automatic substitute for high-capacity transit in peak load conditions.

  • Jen

    I have been to several community meetings on this subject and there has been only one or two people in the crowd that support Dumbarton rail.

    I commute to Palo Alto via the Dumbarton every day. I have off and on for nearly ten years. I would NOT ride the train. I work in downtown Palo Alto and this would not serve my needs. It would not serve the needs of people that work in Mountain View and take the Dumbarton or in south Palo Alto off of Page Mill. The commute time across the Dumbarton has gotten SHORTER in the past eight to ten years. The same route that took me an hour in 1999 now takes me 30 minutes. And this money needs to be spent why? So a couple of folks on bikes can ride the train then bike to work?

    It is assanine to spend $600 million to serve a small minority of the population.

    And as far as the freight trains go, every single resident that I know (including myself who lives backed up to the freight train AND BART tracks) would prefer to hear the sound of a freight train rumbling along as opposed to a commuter train blazing by at 50 miles per hour.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Jen:

    It is always much easier to get people to show up who oppose something than support it. A rule of thumb is that every person supporting the project is worth about ten who oppose it because “no” is much easier than “yes.”

    This project is about more than a few people on bicycles. Note that I don’t even own a bicycle, don’t work adjacent to a Caltrain station, would have to take a shuttle bus from a Caltrain station to my office in San Mateo, but I would take this service if it existed, catching one of the San Francisco-bound trains.

    Much of this attraction of this proposal to me is its potential for future expansion. Once the route is rehabilitated and passenger trains are running, it means not only can the Dumbarton service itself start running, but ACE could start serving Peninsula points as well. Besides, generally speaking, trains are always more a more attractive option than buses, particularly if they are run as an integrated portion of a transportation network, rather than just a standalone project, as it appears many people seem to think Dumbarton Rail would be.

    You mention BART, which gives me a chance to pose this question: If this proposal were a BART extension to downtown Palo Alto via the Dumbarton Bridge, would you support it? If so, why? What is so different from electric trains with swoopy noses compared to conventional trains that can actually run on other systems and aren’t limited to their own tracks?

  • Jen

    Kevin:

    My point is not that I am opposed to the train in and of itself. I am opposed to spending $600 million to get people to what amounts to a suburb – not an ideal set up for public transportation. I would not support a BART extention either across the Dumbarton.

    San Francisco and Oakland are urban centers which are ideally designed for public transportation, especially trains – electric or conventional.

    I think it is great if you have the time to take a bus to the train station, get on a train, ride it, get off and take a shuttle to your work or get on yet another form of public transportation. However, that would add an hour to my commute (which right now stands at 30 minutes) that I don’t have. I guarantee that Dumbarton Rail could not get me to work any faster than driving – in fact, it would most likely take longer.

    As I mentioned, how are one or two train stations going to help people get to the vast areas in which they work around the southern Peninsula? Most companies, especially smaller ones are not going to provide shuttles to pick people up.

    I think this is money spent to benefit a small segment of the population – and I think that is ridiculous. I hate to say it, but the “train has left the station” as far as designing and implementing a cohesive Bay Area-wide public transportation system. It should have been done in tandem with developing the giant office parks and industrial areas of the Silicon Valley. But it wasn’t and now it’s too late to make much sense.

  • Doug

    Jen, I understand your point, but we will, unequivocally, have to change our ways. The following is an except from a new CNN report:

    This change can be witnessed in places like Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, Michigan, and Dallas, Texas, said Leinberger, where once rundown downtowns are being revitalized by well-educated, young professionals who have no desire to live in a detached single family home typical of a suburbia where life is often centered around long commutes and cars.

    Instead, they are looking for what Leinberger calls “walkable urbanism” — both small communities and big cities characterized by efficient mass transit systems and high density developments enabling residents to walk virtually everywhere for everything — from home to work to restaurants to movie theaters.

    The so-called New Urbanism movement emerged in the mid-90s and has been steadily gaining momentum, especially with rising energy costs, environmental concerns and health problems associated with what Leinberger calls “drivable suburbanism” — a low-density built environment plan that emerged around the end of the World War II and has been the dominant design in the U.S. ever since.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Jen:

    Well, I’ll give you credit for consistency, which is more than a lot of people have.

    You write: “[How] are one or two train stations going to help people get to the vast areas in which they work around the southern Peninsula?”

    Where did you come up with “one or two?” Have you ever looked at Caltrain’s list of stations? Or do you think — you wouldn’t be the only one — that Dumbarton trains would run from Union City and Fremont over to Palo Alto and stop there, like a captive shuttle bus? They wouldn’t do that, you know. Some of the trains would turn south and make stops at Caltrain stations, and others (those about which I’m personally interested because I’d ride them if they were there) would turn north making stops at Caltrain stations. That’s a lot more than “one or two.”

    There’s also more to this than just cutting commute time. How much does that 30-minute commute cost you just in out of pocket costs? I currently drive 25 miles each day to and from work over either the Dumbarton or San Mateo bridge. I reckon that takes 40 minutes each way on a good day and twice that on a bad one. It costs me (at today’s prices) between $10 and $15 worth of gas (not including any other wear and tear) plus a $4 bridge toll. And of course gas prices aren’t going to go down. So I reckon that anything less than that in transit fare is a big win for me, not even counting the positive environmental effects and the fact that I can get things done while riding the train — reading, if nothing else — while time spent driving is not productive at all.

  • Joe K

    I certainly hope people come around and accept the fact that we are doomed without a robust public transportation system. If this includes a rail line through my neighborhood (I live in Niles as well), then all the better.

  • Jen

    Kevin:

    I have commuted via both BART and CalTrain. I am fully aware that the Dumbarton Rail would cross the bay, stop in Menlo Park (most likely Willow Road from what I have seen) and then connect with the CalTrain either north or south from there. By one or two stops, I was implying that there would be one, at most two stops between the bay and the main CalTrain line.

    My point is: Most people do NOT work within walking distance of ANY CalTrain station. Again, it is a multi-step process most people are not willing to take. So I would hypothetically drive to Union City BART, take the Dumbarton Rail across the bay, either get off at the “Willow Station”, then take a shuttle bus to downtown Palo Alto OR take the train to the main CalTrain tracks and go south one stop to Palo Alto station and then walk 15 minutes from there.
    I’m sorry – my time is worth more than that. If there is a 30 minute delay in one of those legs, I could have been home in that time.

    And I can read once I get home – probably almost a full hour earlier than I would if I took public transit.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Jen:

    I can see that I’m never going to convince you. Economically speaking, your demand is completely inelastic. We could charge $10/gallon for gasoline and you’d still drive, right?

    You still seem to be thinking in terms of “riding a train to some place where I transfer to another train,” but that may just be me misunderstanding how you word it. There already is a train station in Palo Alto, but as your definition of “walking distance” appears to be “one minute or less,” it’s never going to be close enough for you.

  • Doug

    The time has come for people to base their job search on distance and cost of transportation. Until now cost of fuel has not been a factor and neither has time, i.e., someone living in Tracy or Manteca. Ask what they think about their commute to the Bay Area these days and get their thoughts about having the Altamont Express as an alternative method of transportation.

  • Joe K.

    Jen, while I can appreciate your personal reluctance to use public transportation because it may not be built to your exacting specifications (mainly, door to door service), the bigger picture is only addressed by adding more transportation options. Nothing else will suffice, period.

    Nearly every metro area outside our state have addressed these issues decades ago. Neighborhoods in NYC have been physically divided, tracks of homes have been eliminated in Chicago, entire zip codes have been uprooted in Boston -all for the sake of public transportation.

    I am a Niles resident myself, and I can only imagine the added benefit of a major train artery passing though adding to the draw of Niles. Picture the small town vibe, close community, proximity to the greater metro area, BART *and* a passenger rail line stopping outside our own front door.

    Those in Niles who are adamantly opposed, please consider the benefit, which I believe out-weigh the minor burden of morning and evening train traffic by magnitudes.

  • Lisa

    Well Joe, that is your opinion and not that of many that live in Niles including myself. Have you considered not only the late night and early morning, let’s just say all night trains but also the pollution which these added trains bring to the area? Well I have and they are great especially if you happen to have a child that suffers from asthma. That means breathing treatments throughtout the night just so that she can sleep. But no worries, I will be up anyways because of the noise of the heavy freight trains that were diverted down the Niles tracks.

  • Lisa

    Hey Worble,

    I just now saw your comments and would like to respond. First of all the Niles train does not impact anyone in the evening or anyother time. It does bring people to Niles to spend and visit.

    In regards to Niles school, mice yes, bats no, nothing that a few hungry stray cats can’t handle.

    I don’t recall “Niles” asking for the A’s. In fact I am opposed to the A’s. I think it would be a bad move to Fremont in many ways. If they come, that is where we will need mass public transportation to support the tens of thousands of fans not to mention the thousands of new homes that will be built.

    You should put some of your negative energy into doing something good, it might make you feel better!

  • Doug

    This article, published today 06.19.08, says folks are starting to get the message about the distance between work and home and how much that impacts their lives and wallets.

  • Doug

    For some reason my last post did not display the URL for the report. We’ll try again. If it doesn’t appear at the end of this post go to InsideBayArea.com and look in the Business Section for “Homebuyers look closer to work”. http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_9625292

  • Jen

    Unfortunately, I think that those in favor of these projects are just as obtuse as they accuse me of being.
    No, I do not expect door to door service.
    I have commuted via BART and have had to walk 10 – 15 minutes to get to my job. But it was a one shot deal – one train to my destination and get off and walk.

    And until you have lived right next to the train tracks where a train goes barreling by at 50 miles an hour I don’t think you really have room to comment on the situation. I lived right next to the tracks near Nursery Avenue – moved in part because of the commuter train noise. The freight trains are not a bother. But try and have some people over for a backyard BBQ when you have a train speeding by 75 feet from your back door. I don’t mind it when it’s a freight train – I can still hear myself think. An ACE train is another matter entirely.

    I made a choice to live where I do and spend what I did on our home because it was reasonably close to my job – I didn’t move out to Manteca to get a 5 bedroom brand-new house. I shouldn’t have to pay the price in my quality of life to get those people to their jobs on the Peninsula or in the South Bay.

    And if you are SO wedded to the idea of public transportation, move closer to your job. Despite what a lot of you might think, even with gas at $5 a gallon, the Altamont is still bumper to bumper every morning with people commuting from the Valley. You aren’t going to change people’s minds – this isn’t a “build it and they will come” issue. $600 million is too high a price in order to test that theory.

  • Coyote Bill

    I have a hard time finding the logic in people moving next to train tracks that have been there over a 100 years and then complain about the trains. It is true that traffic has increased and probably will continue to, but come on you knew the train tracks were there.

  • Jen

    Coyote Bill:

    I moved next to freight train tracks – not commuter tracks. Big difference.

    I don’t have to stop talking inside my house with all the doors and windows closed and wait for the freight train to pass – I did with the ACE trains, and not just because of the horns.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Jen, you write: “I have commuted via BART and have had to walk 10 – 15 minutes to get to my job. But it was a one shot deal – one train to my destination and get off and walk.”

    If your job in Palo Alto is within 10-15 minutes walk of the Palo Alto train station, then you’d be in the exact same situation. Get on a train (just like BART, except it doesn’t have a pointy nose and run by electricity), ride it to Palo Alto (despite what some people seem to be saying, Dumbarton Rail is not a point-to-point shuttle requiring a change of trains at Redwood Junction), and walk to your work.

    Where is “downtown Palo Alto” by your definition, by the way? From what you’ve written, it must not be the place I think of as “downtown Palo Alto,” because you describe it as having no nearby train station.

    You write: “And until you have lived right next to the train tracks where a train goes barreling by at 50 miles an hour I don’t think you really have room to comment on the situation.”

    Thanks for allowing me to comment then, as I did live right next to train tracks where trains went barreling by at higher speeds than you mention. I lived there for more than three years. When I left, it was not because of the trains, but because I got another job in another city.

    I currently live in a condominium community that shares a wall with the Centerville train line. I’ll admit that I’m not on the side that faces the tracks; however, I know it wouldn’t bother me if I did because I’ve lived that close to the tracks before.

    You write: “And if you are SO wedded to the idea of public transportation, move closer to your job.”

    As it happens, should something open up within walking distance of my job at the right time, I probably will apply for it.

    You write: “Despite what a lot of you might think, even with gas at $5 a gallon, the Altamont is still bumper to bumper every morning with people commuting from the Valley.”

    Yes. It’s very interesting that the demand is far more inelastic than anyone seemed to think it was. That means we can probably look forward to $10/gallon not long from now, because demand isn’t significantly falling with price. In that situation, wouldn’t you raise your price if you knew you could get anything you charged?

    You write: “You aren’t going to change people’s minds – this isn’t a “build it and they will come” issue. $600 million is too high a price in order to test that theory.”

    By that reasoning, we should never build anything at all. Or are there _any_ public works projects you think are good?

    Incidentally, most of the other places where good sensible rail transit projects were built, people built around them and used them. Even in places like Utah where there were dug-in opponents. Some of those opponents have even been big enough to admit they were wrong.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Jen, you write: “I don’t have to stop talking inside my house with all the doors and windows closed and wait for the freight train to pass – I did with the ACE trains, and not just because of the horns.”

    Huh? You’re saying that a five car commuter train is more disruptive and noisy than a 100-car freight train? Amazing.

  • Doug

    When we bought our home, in 1975, the UPRR track behind our home was in operation (it has since ceased operation). It was approx. 150′from our kitchen window. The SPRR track, still in operation is a bit farther away. Visiting friends’ eyes would get big when a UPRR train went by expecting us to have to open two doors to let it pass.
    I would tell them given the choice of an train once in a while, a freeway roaring all the time or two-story houses staring down into our backyard, I’d choose the train.
    Now that BART will be running behind us…..I’ll get back to you in 2013, with my answer.

  • Jen

    Kevin:

    Yes – a 5 car ACE train going by at 55 miles an hour is far more disruptive than the freight trains I currently deal with. It’s wonderful that you wouldn’t mind it, but most of the people in Niles that backup to said freight train tracks are vehemently opposed to having commuter rail on those tracks. And this is a matter of opinion as to which kind of train is worse – It’s my assumption that you didn’t pay a large sum of money for a home where your quality of life will be significantly diminished if there are commuter trains running behind your home – I did. So I’m afraid your arguing with what would bother ME more is a bit inane.

    I don’t really feel the need to get into semantics with you as to where my definition is of downtown Palo Alto. The point of taking BART to SF was that I could get to work in an hour whereas to drive was around 90 minutes on average. Rail to Palo Alto will not SAVE me time and it would more than likely COST me and others taking the same route, time, even without the changing of trains.

    I do recall you getting up at a meeting at the Niles School auditorium and stating you were in favor of the project. I also recall that you were one of few, if not the ONLY one who voiced such an opinion at that meeting.

    Just as you can go on and on with reasons as to why you think that this is completely necessary, I can go on and on with reasons why I think it is the bloated pet project of some overpaid state employees. I support public works projects – just not this one.

    And I agree with your last point – “Incidentally, most of the other places where good sensible rail transit projects were built, people built around them and used them” – unfortunately, this does not meet the criteria of “good sensible rail transit”.

    Hopefully good sense will prevail and that half a billion dollars will get spent on more worthy and useful projects.

  • Joe K.

    I was at the Niles Elementary meeting too, Jen. Though I did not speak, I did notice the average age of the twenty some people there was around 60 years. Assuming most were opposed, I have reservations about those approaching retirement age making decisions that impact the future of Fremont.

  • MikeOnBike

    Where in Niles do the passenger trains go that fast? With all the curves and switches near Mission Blvd, all trains (including ACE and Capitol Corridor) are typically pretty slow through that area.

  • Jen

    Joe:

    There were several meetings on the subject which I attended. One one occasion, it was the case that most of the people were older. However, on another, I saw quite a few folks that were what I would guess to be mid-30s to mid-40s. I myself fall into the mid-30s category and plan on staying in Niles (and grew up in Niles). I try voice my opinion on the subject where I can as I am that “future of Fremont” you speak of – a group that was meeting regularly to oppose the project was made up of equally of both groups. I think the “retiree” age people just have more time to attend such meetings.

    MikeonBike: At the Nursery crossing the ACE and Capitol Corridor trains go quite fast.
    Most of the freight trains are quite a bit slower.

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    Jen:

    Basically, It sounds to me that your argument comes down to, “If it doesn’t personally benefit me, then it shouldn’t be built.”

    You’re the one who said that if you haven’t lived by the railroad tracks, you can’t possibly have a valid opinion. I have, and I do. It’s just not the same opinion as yours. I know I’m never going to change your mind about this.

    You’re right that I’m the only one in the room who spoke in favor of that project at that hearing. I’m not surprised, really. It is always easier to oppose something than to advocate it. The easiest thing to do is NOTHING. And what we had there was a room full of NIMBYs, pure and simple. Oh, except for the idiot who loudly informed me on my LiveJournal when I wrote about that meeting that these trains would run on coal. Seriously.

    You write, “Hopefully good sense will prevail and that half a billion dollars will get spent on more worthy and useful projects.”

    I agree with the first few words of that sentence, except that in my opinion, “good sense” calls for the completion of a sensible rail passenger link across the Bay, leading to an improvement in the “network effect” of interlinked transportation.

    Are there ANY proposed transportation projects in this that you think are any good?

  • MikeOnBike

    Jen said: “At the Nursery crossing the ACE and Capitol Corridor trains go quite fast.”

    The ACE trains don’t cross Nursery. Of the passenger trains that go through Niles, just the seven daily Capitol Corridor round trips use that track.

    Meanwhile, there’s a separate project to move all passenger trains to the track that parallels the BART line, including an intermodal connection at Union City BART. That will remove the passenger trains from the Nursery crossing.

  • Jen

    MikeOnBike:

    My apologies – it’s just the Capitol Corridor trains, you are correct.

    And yes, there is a plan to move all passenger rail to the UPRR tracks next to the BART tracks. Part of the deception of this whole debacle is that there won’t just be a couple of trains in the morning and a couple at night as the Dumbarton rail supporters suggest – there will be nearly 30 a day according to projections listed in the EIR(s).
    They separated the two projects in order to present a more palatable EIR on both. Union City is a huge proponent of this because it would aid in justifying their over-ambitious plans for the Intramodal station at UC BART.

  • MikeOnBike

    Jen said: “And yes, there is a plan to move all passenger rail to the UPRR tracks next to the BART tracks. Part of the deception of this whole debacle is that there won’t just be a couple of trains in the morning and a couple at night as the Dumbarton rail supporters suggest – there will be nearly 30 a day”

    By comparison, the adjoining BART tracks run up to 16 trains per hour. On weekdays, the first train leaves Fremont at 4am. The last train arrives in Fremont at 1:28am.

    The Capitol Corridor trains have to go through Niles one way or another. Is it preferable to have them crossing Nursery (with bells and whistles) than running alongside the far-busier BART tracks?

  • http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/ Kevin Standlee

    MikeOnBike:

    You don’t understand. Most people don’t think BART are trains. They are BART, and BART is something Special. Certainly not nasty old choo-choo trains. *rolls eyes in exasperation*

  • Jen

    BART is an electric rail system and according to the decibel studies presented in the various EIRs surrounding these RR projects, are much less noisy than the diesel engines on the “choo choo” trains.

    And the city of Fremont is in some sort of study/application mode to institute a quiet zone at Nursery Avenue so the trains would not blow their whistles at that crossing. So the argument of moving them in order to not have the whistles blowing is moot if that application (or whatever it is) is approved.