August 9, 2005 > What is AB 1462 and why does it matter?
What is AB 1462 and why does it matter?
An interview with Assemblymember Alberto Torrico (D - 20th District)
In an effort to facilitate efforts to relieve traffic congestion in north Fremont and Union City, Assemblyman Alberto Torrico authored Assembly Bill No. 1462. The bill is often cited as a critical piece of the puzzle to resolve the long-standing dispute between the cities of Fremont and Union City regarding the Highway 84 "Historic Parkway" between Mission Boulevard (State Route 238) and Interstate Highway 880/Decoto Road. TCV asked Assemblymember Torrico about the content and progress of this bill.
TCV: Why was AB 1462 written and what is its current status?
Torrico: Alameda County Transportation Authority (ACTA) came to me and said, "If Fremont and Union City come to an agreement [on the disposition of the historic parkway] we will need to sell some excess land that belongs to the state. We want to make sure those funds are used to effectuate that agreement between the cities for Route 84, Option 2 or whatever it happens to be."
I told ACTA that I would carry legislation only with the understanding that it is to facilitate an agreement between the cities. I am not taking sides. I am not advocating for any route. My bill will be a vehicle to create an agreement between the cities that is beneficial to the whole region.
AB 1462 has gone through the [California State] Assembly without opposition, then to Senate where Senator [Liz] Figueroa (D-10th District) was added as co-author. It moved through the Transportation Committee and is on its way to the Senate floor. It has not yet been voted on the Senate floor, but when this happens, it must come back to the Assembly for a "concurrence" vote since there has been a change, even if that change is only the addition of Senator Figueroa as a co-author.
We are currently out of session, so nothing will happen until the legislature reconvenes. As soon as the Senate is back in session, they will vote on the bill and it will come back to me. That is where we are today.
TCV: What happens if there is no agreement between Fremont and Union City?
Torrico: I will be requesting from ACTA a list of transportation projects in the Tri-City area. Based on advice from ACTA, elected representatives and transportation personnel, I will earmark projects that will receive money from the sale of the land.
TCV: This will become part of the legislation?
Torrico: If the cities are not in agreement, I will make a decision on where the money will go based on regional needs. This will be included in the legislation.
TCV: The Fremont City Council voted 3-2 against Option 2. Can this, in your opinion, create a consensus position?
Torrico: Irrespective of the Fremont council majority, indications from Union City are that this decision will not form a consensus between Fremont and Union City. I am not looking for unanimity, just something the two cities can agree on that makes sense for regional traffic. Fremont seems to think that is what they did. There appears to be disagreement with that position by officials in Union City and elected officials on the ACTA board.
TCV: Information presented to the Fremont City Council indicated that the ACTA board had decided on how to handle monies if there was no agreement between Fremont and Union City. Is this still operative?
Torrico: I am hearing from some on the board that they may not vote for what Fremont has put on the table. I want to emphasize that AB 1462 is a vehicle for consensus and agreement between these two cities with ACTA's consent.
TCV: Do you have any idea when this will be resolved?
Torrico: No. I have been in conversations with council members of both cities and still think there is hope to reach some regional solution. People are losing sight of the problem; I challenge anyone on the Fremont or Union City council to go down Decoto Road between I-880 and Mission at 5 p.m. and tell me there is no [traffic congestion] problem. It is going to get worse.
We need to quit thinking about today. Think about 30 years from now; what is this corridor going to look like? If Union City builds a transit hub and we have the train [Dumbarton Rail] across the Dumbarton Bridge with stops in Newark and other places, we have to be smarter about what we are doing here.
TCV: There appears to be a push from some Fremont council members to remove money from this project and use it to fund the Mission/I880 interchange. Is this legitimate?
Torrico: I think this is becoming a non-issue. One of the reasons is that we have $3 million that Pete Stark got for us from the Federal Highway Funding Project. That is 10 percent of the cost. We also have that intersection ranked as a top priority of the Congestion Management Agency which means that it is at the top of the list for STIP (State Transportation Improvement Program) funds, almost fully funded now because Proposition 42 is being funded. So that intersection is probably going to be funded anyway.
TCV: Can you refresh my memory about Proposition 42?
Torrico: This directs state gas tax monies into a special fund for transportation projects all over the state.
TCV: That money must be used for transportation projects?
Torrico: Yes, but there are loopholes. It [Proposition 42] has been in effect for three years and has never been fully funded. Those funds have been raided by the legislature and the governor to balance our budget. This year, for the first time, it will be fully funded. We finally have the political will to do it.
TCV: Then why is the Fremont City Council so determined to take money away from north Fremont/Union City transportation and shift it to the I880/Mission interchange?
Torrico: The full funding [of Mission/I-880 without Highway 84 funds] is a late-breaking development. We are now pretty confident that it will happen. My position is that given what is happening in Sacramento - the political will to fully fund Proposition 42 this year and in the future - and the fact that our economy seems to be picking up again, I am confident that we will have transportation dollars for the next three, four or five years to fund that project. You have to look in the crystal ball a little bit, but I think that we will be able to do it.