Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

June 21, 2005 > Letter To the editor

Letter To the editor

Regional transportation is one of the thorniest issues in the Bay Area. On the one hand, most people say they strongly support improved transportation choices including transit of every variety. On the other hand, regional solutions often have local impacts.

The concept of an efficient intermodal station where transfers between rail, BART, and bus are simple and convenient is easy to understand. The reality of providing those integrated transit services seems to be much more difficult. Southern Alameda County suffers from a patchwork of transit services with little or no opportunity to transfer from one to another. As our cities continue to fill in, the chance to blend these services becomes more remote.

Union City is recognized by transportation planners for its leadership and vision in pursuing a regional transportation facility in one of the most advantageous locations in the Bay Area. There simply is no other site with the combination of rail and BART adjacency, existing bus system connections, and available land on which to build the facilities. We need a full range of transit connections to make transportation alternatives really work.

The benefits reach well beyond Union City. Increased transit ridership relieves traffic congestion on area freeways and roadways. Fewer commuters in cars reduce air pollution and improve the health of our communities. Improving the Bay Area's transportation system will improve the quality of life for all Tri-City residents. We need convenient public transit to help our cities grow without choking on the resulting traffic.

The unavoidable impacts of the project fall mainly on Union City. Fremont will be quieter after the track is realigned because two rail crossings where trains must blow their whistles (at Nursery Avenue and Shinn Street) will be eliminated.

The number of passenger trains will increase whether Union City builds a rail station or not. It will be quieter to run these trains on the high speed welded tracks included in the rail project than to continue using the existing tracks. There are mitigation measures that are real, are used elsewhere in the U.S., and that can effectively reduce impacts such as noise and vibration from passing trains.

The Tri-City community supports improved transportation choices for our residents. Yes, there will be limited local impacts from this regional facility. There are residents who find change unwelcome and ask that their individual concerns overrule the needs of the larger community. Look at the bigger picture. Think regionally. Support this unique opportunity to create new transportation options. It's time for the rest of us to speak up for better transit, less air pollution, and improved health for Tri-City residents.

Cathi Sweeney
Union City

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