The Bay Area Council Economic Institute (BACEI), in response to a request from the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, has released its Bay Area Economic Recovery Workplan. This is essentially a compendium of regional priorities and projects (submitted by MTC and local governments) that strategizes potential targets for ARRA stimulus money. The proposals fall into several categories — transportation, housing, water, energy/climate, workforce, business, and science/innovation — generally emphasizing projects of regional or multi-jurisdictional significance that will update the Bay Area’s infrastructure to promote future economic prosperity and sustainability. Some $31 billion of stimulus funds will be allocated to California, of which some of these Bay Area projects will certainly receive a share. California is also positioning itself to receive up to $20 billion more, factoring in awards coming in through discretionary grant programs.
In several places, the Workplan pledges its support of current efforts to plan and build mixed-use transit-oriented development throughout the region — to encourage transit use, decrease congestion, curb emissions, shorten commutes, and to ensure that there is sufficient housing at all income levels, as allocated by ABAG; major projects like Mission Bay and Bay Meadows were specifically highlighted. The Workplan also briefly discusses NSPs as a tool to stabilize areas hit especially hard by foreclosures. Meanwhile, the transportation section does not really contain any surprises. MTC’s efforts on the stimulus (which we discussed previously) are included in the Workplan, along with various pedestrian/streetscape Transportation Enhancements projects, and some HOV projects; also included are transportation improvements that upgrade trade links, e.g. Port of Oakland and the Capitol Corridor. In anticipation of the $8 billion of discretionary competitive grants set aside for national high-speed rail projects, the proposal includes $3.4 billion worth of projects that fall under the heading of Caltrain/high-speed rail prep, including: positive train control (due by 2015), electrification (which, after years of endless delay, is now declared to be of “highest importance”), grade separation at San Bruno Station, $500 million for redesign and expansion of San Jose Diridon Station, and $400 million for the train box at the Transbay Transit Center.
|TTC cross-section; courtesy of TJPA (larger version here).|
In related news, this week the Transbay Joint Powers Authority board is expected to approve a resolution that will include the below-grade levels in the detailed Design Development of Phase 1 of the Transit Center. This resolution, which will override TJPA’s previous “top down” strategy, advances design and construction of the train box and the support columns onto the Transit Center’s timeline (although the finishes, like the platforms and track, will be deferred to Phase 2). One stated reason for moving the train box forward is everyone’s favorite reason these days: using construction projects as opportunities to stimulate job creation during an economic downturn. As usual, though, the rationale really boils down to time and money, neither of which are in abundant supply. Although shifting the train box in to Phase 1 would require the additional $400 million upfront, the train box would at least be eligible for ARRA stimulus high-speed rail grant money. And the shift is estimated to save $100 million over the course of construction, speed up the construction schedule, and reduce disruptive impacts by avoiding excavation under an at least partly completed bus terminal. Focusing on this one design alternative (instead of carrying both forward) will save about four months and $12 million. Building the train box in Phase 1 will ease and improve waterproofing. It will also permit mechanical rooms, transformers, and other necessities to be located below grade, on the concourse mezzanine level, which leaves more space above ground for retail and circulation.