On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will consider approving an integrated strategy to pursue funding from the recently passed federal infrastructure law. This strategy would fund a set projects that improve and connect rail around the bay, including
Completion of Caltrain electrification The Downtown Extension connecting Caltrain to the salesforce terminalDiridon Station upgrades to accommodate High Speed Rail and transit connectionsConnecting BART to San JoseBART Transbay Core CapacityLink21 project development
In addition, the package of projects will include 5-10 grade separation projects to separate rail tracks from roadway crossings, competing for $8 billion in federal funds. The MTC staff report noted that the priority grade separation projects would be published in a handout before the meeting. As of Sunday March 20, the grade separation list hadn’t yet been posted.
The plan prioritizes projects to maximize the likelihood of funding from competitive federal programs, rather than leaving each agency and county to lobby the federal government separately, which would leave the whole region less competitive in seeking the federal funding.
On Friday March 11, the MTC/ABAG Legislation Committee reviewed the program. The Caltrain and BART projects received broad approval.
There were a few topics of debate:
Alameda County representatives advocated for inclusion of the ValleyLink project. However, it is at an earlier phase of project readiness, and MTC staff explained that it is not yet in shape to be a strong candidate for the federal fundingSome Alameda County representatives opposed the inclusion of the South Bay Connect project that would move the Capitol Corridor tracks east close to the Bay, shortening the trip between San Jose and Oakland, but abandoning existing stations in Hayward and Fremont.
You can see the whole program proposal here.