Yesterday, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued a joint press release announcing the Bay Area region's preference for stimulus and other HSR spending the Bay Area to be directed towards upgrades to the Caltrain corridor, the expansion of SJ Diridon Station, and the establishment of the new SF Transbay Terminal as the SF terminus.
Newsom had already come out in support of Transbay. Enhancing Diridon was a foregone conclusion. But the announcement apparently portends a broader regional agreement.
We should learn more about this announcement of regional aspirations at this morning's meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is brokering the agreement. More details from the Chronicle:
The proposal would turn the Diridon Station in downtown San Jose and the planned new Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco into major regional transit hubs.
In addition, the Caltrain Station at Fourth and King streets in San Francisco's South of Market would be expanded to accommodate high-speed rail.
The proposed package also seeks funding to electrify Caltrain and to equip its rail cars with automated train-control equipment that senses impending danger on the tracks. The train tracks in San Bruno would be separated from truck and auto traffic.
Together the projects would cost $3.4 billion, said Randy Rentschler, government affairs manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The region will ask for $1.6 billion in new federal stimulus money to help pay for the improvements. Additional funds would come from the nearly $10 billion funding pot backed by California voters for high-speed rail.
The Bay Area will seek additional funding later to pay for other projects.
One could argue that the explicit advocacy of Caltrain upgrades is a rebuke to NIMBY calls for taking HSR off the Caltrain corridor altogether, but I'm not sure the powers that be would bother to dignify such fringe proposals. This could turn out to merely be formalizing exactly which upgrade projects should come first. (Incidentally, Caltrain was awarded $9 million in stimulus funding for unrelated projects this week.)
It's encouraging to see a regional consensus emerging around Transbay, which should hopefully end the public political squabbles. What do you think? Will this announcement put an end to the issue, or merely galvanize opposing forces and bring the funding and technical challenges of Transbay further into the fore?