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April 19, 2005 > BART Warm Springs extension hearing held

BART Warm Springs extension hearing held

by Linda Stone

Nearly one dozen BART officials were on hand to speak with community members during the open house period at the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) hearing held on April 12 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Niles.

The project previously fell short of funding at the state level and as a result, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and BART are preparing the EIS in order to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). This will make the project eligible for federal funding.

Environmental issues analyzed in the DEIS include, but are not limited to: transportation and traffic impacts; use of parkland, including Fremont Central Park; biological resources and sensitive species; land use, including consistency of proposed stations with local plans and policies; potential impacts to historic and cultural resources; and noise and vibration impacts on homes and other sensitive receptors near the tracks.

Public comments voiced concerns about the planned tunnel under Central Park and access to the park during construction as well as noise and vibration near homes along the proposed extension tracks and the possible devaluation of property. One comment at the meeting criticized the location of the Warm Springs station saying it would not be heavily used due to its location in a sparsely populated area surrounded by commercial and pasture land. It was pointed out that there are over 100,000 people living within a three mile radius of the proposed station.

This project will extend BART service an additional 5.4 miles south from the existing Fremont BART Station to a new station in the Warm Springs district, with an optional station in Fremont's Irvington district.

The new Warm Springs Extension alignment will parallel portions of the Union Pacific (UP) railroad corridor, which contains the former Western Pacific (WP) and Southern Pacific (SP) railroad tracks in southern Alameda County. The initial segment will begin on an embankment at the southern end of the existing elevated Fremont BART Station, pass over Walnut Avenue on an aerial structure and descend into a cut-and-cover subway north of Stevenson Boulevard. The alignment will continue southward in a subway under Fremont Central Park and the eastern arm of Lake Elizabeth. It will then surface to at-grade between the former WP and SP alignments north of Paseo Padre Parkway.

Paseo Padre Parkway will be reconfigured as a vehicular underpass as part of the city of Fremont's Grade Separation Project. The alignment will pass over Paseo Padre Parkway on a bridge structure, and continue southward at-grade, passing under a grade-separated Washington Boulevard. Washington Boulevard will be reconfigured as a vehicular overpass as part of the city's grade separation project. From Washington Boulevard, the alignment will continue at-grade along the former WP alignment south to a terminus station at Warm Springs and South Grimmer Boulevards in the Warm Springs District.

According to BART, the Warm Springs Extension will result in an increase in transit trips, particularly those destined for, originating in, or passing through southern Alameda County. The extension will increase transit ridership by 4,700 daily trips by 2010 and 7,200 daily trips by 2025. The optional Irvington Station would provide an increase of 5,700 and 9,100 daily trips by 2010 and 2025, respectively. This increase in transit trips indicates a shift in use from automobiles to transit.

The final EIS is expected to be completed by May with the design-build implantation to start in 2010.

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