MTC Wants to Bury Dumbarton Rail

The staff report for MTC’s Planning and Allocations meeting, Wednesday, May 14 at 9:40 am lays out MTC's plans to bury the Dumbarton Rail project. Transit advocates have often noted that this project is the only possible way to avoid the cost of a new multibillion Transbay tunnel to deal with the lack of capacity in BART's Transbay tube. On April 23, TRANSDEF filed comments [this file without exhibits] with MTC, asserting legal arguments for why the proposed elimination of Regional Measure 2 funding for the Dumbarton Rail Project would be both illegal and unwise. [Comment file with the full set of exhibits.]

After refusing to put $300 million into Dumbarton Rail, while putting far more than that into new HOT lanes, MTC now has the gall to say that the project must be cancelled for lack of funding. This is reminiscent of Congress reducing food stamps so that it can increase subsidies for agribusiness. It also sounds like the classic plea to the judge by the man that had killed his parents: "Your honor, please have mercy on me for I am an orphan.”

This move is especially grievous because a draft EIR/EIS has been prepared, but is now sitting on the shelf because FTA won't sign off on the EIS until the project is fully funded. Sufficient mitigations were built into the plan to make it acceptable to the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge. Faux concern about impacts on the Refuge had been the heavily promoted environmental rationale for the CHSRA’s selection of the Pacheco pass over the Altamont pass for the HSR connection to the Bay Area.

sued MTC when it shifted $91 million from Dumbarton Rail to Warm Springs BART. The promise had been that the money would be repaid by Alameda County (ACTIA) in later years, when Dumbarton funding had been assembled. MTC now proposes to convert that transfer from a loan into a grant, so that the Dumbarton Project wouldn't have to be repaid. That adds insult to injury.

Many transit advocates believe that MTC's continued hostility towards Dumbarton Rail exhibits its subservience to the forces that insisted on the selection of the Pacheco HSR route for their private benefit. Killing Dumbarton Rail protects the falsehood that there is no environmentally sensitive way to cross the Bay in the Redwood City area.