Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Restore lower SF Bay Estuary & Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge to its pre-1910 natural state!

This note is intended for agencies and organizations who are concerned enough to help improve further the lower San Francisco Bay's water quality and beautiful natural environment with better long-range planning, implementation, advocacy while improving Bay Area transit mobility and air quality, specifically, today, aimed toward the bienniel San Francisco Estuary Conference Members, Regional Water Quality Control Board(s), Bay Conservation District, ABAG and MTC/BATA members.

To wit:

  Just  a quick note to ask the SF Bay Estuary conference members, this meeting or next, and/or the Implementation Committee to please consider supporting a push to finish BART around the SF Bay with a component relating to elimination of the old 1910 Dumbarton Rail Bridge pylons since they will no longer be necessary when BART achieves its ultimate and original goal of circling the Bay.   BART currently is planned to go through San Jose to the Santa Clara University station. BART already exists from SF to Millbrae.  That leaves only 21 miles to close the ultimate BART Around The Bay gap that will increase BART's capacity for two-way access around the Bay, to all the major universities, airport and train stations, many shopping and TOD centers.   With BART completing the 21 miles, no further need exists for the old Dumbarton Rail bridge $1Billion reconstruction/recreation across the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge, since BART will serve the same communities, Union City, Redwood City, Menlo Park/Palo Alto. thus the 1910 era pylons can be removed, restoring the DEWR to its pre-1910 natural state, and avoiding implementation of a diesel-electric train air and brake pollution across the refuge. .  The $1 Billion programmed to Dumbarton Rail project could be applied to Regional Measure 2's other major, proven  one-seat (no transfer) candidate electrified, grade-separated, safer project: BART is one of them. Indded, Santa Clara County's VTA has noted possible planning to extend BART up the Peninsula to the end of its jurisdiction at Palo Alto/Stanford University/Stanford Shopping Center at the Menlo Park/San Mateo County line, thus leaving only the distance from Menlo Park to Millbrae to consider for a study etc and so eliminating the need for any Dumbarton Rail regressive reconstruction over the DEWR.

I am seeking water quality agency support/sponsorship to begin the discussion to do the above at ABAG, MTC/BATA, Regional Water Quality Board and other public and private stakeholders who have a vision for this approximately 15 year project.

Currently, MTC and Peninsula cities are not looking at this, rather continuing the old 198x-1990s Dumbarton Rail notion.  Will members of the group help raise this awareness?

My interest is to plan to replace the once-successful, but now outdated, at capacity, at grade, and very deadly Caltrain (kills 12-16 each year for decades on its tracks) with BART, and not add another leg across the Bay and refuge of this outdated system--because an effective heavy rail train system exists: BART.  Caltrain, because of its express trains (same max speed as BART ~ 75 mph) run at grade through the heart of Peninsula Cities, whereas BART must be grade separated and is already electrified and parallel 15 miles from SF to Millbrae, so only 21 miles remains to upgrade the Peninsula Corridor rail and truly relieve Peninsula highway traffic, as BART has done in its existing corridors.  I am will aware of many obstacles and East Bay needs, but Santa Clara and San Mateo county residents have both approved, and are paying taxes for BART, but key cities in the 21 mile gap have no direct access now. Imagine the future, at least with respect to replacing the planned Dumbarton Rail reconstruction with a more efficient BART Around the Bay that will serve more riders and protect the lower Bay, restore it to it natural state, not seen since 1910....in only 15 years or so, if we can get public agencies to start focusing on this Bay Estuary improvement opportunity.  Note that Dumbarton Rail (DR) project is stand alone, though planned to be under the current Caltrain administration.  My suggestion here is to sever DR from Caltrain by redirecting resources to bring BART closer to closing the 21 mile gap, while providing more frequent, farther reach, and better service to entice transit mobility.

Omar Chatty

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