Residents of Livermore are fond of reminding us every so often that there is an outstanding “debt” to their city. They remind us that they have been paying BART taxes since the district’s beginning, and and that they have been waiting patiently for decades for the construction of their long-promised and past overdue BART extension. Indeed, a petition circulated a few years ago by Linda Jeffery Sailors (former mayor of Dublin, active in transportation efforts in the Tri-Valley, and an ardent supporter of both the Dublin/Pleasanton and Livermore extensions) gathered hundreds of signatures to demonstrate local support for the extension. In the meantime, Livermore has taken a back seat to the San Jose extension, which is a more expensive and complicated project serving a county that is not even in the district — even though Livermore is located within the district, albeit at the Bay Area’s easternmost fringe. But planning for the Livermore extension is moving forward, and BART has released its Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (DPEIR) for the project.
A number of potential alignments for a BART project to Livermore have been studied throughout the years, such as the diesel tBART project (which, like eBART, was conceived as a cheaper alternative to conventional rapid transit, but whose price quickly ballooned from about $200 million to $500 million). Also considered was a roughly 50-mile diesel route between Walnut Creek and Tracy parallel to Interstates 680 and 580. This concept, which contemplated connections to both the Walnut Creek and Dublin/Pleasanton BART stations, may well have been a more effective project than the bona fide BART alternatives now being analyzed.
Bouncing off of a scoping process that took place this past year, BART has selected 9 alignment alternatives to extend conventional third rail BART service (in contrast to eBART, which will use diesel multiple units) several miles east from the current Dublin/Pleasanton station to a new terminus in Livermore. The project would be in the mold of the usual BART project: extending service at least in part via a freeway median, even deeper into suburbia. By extending the track east along both I-580 and the Union Pacific right-of-way, the project would parallel a greater length of one of the Bay Area’s most congested stretches of freeway, and in the process capture new suburban riders; but it would also further strain the capacity of the Transbay Tube. And naturally, these endeavors do not come cheaply: most of the serious alternatives under consideration are pegged to cost $3-4 billion.
The Livermore extension does, however, provide an opportunity to fill a gap in the Northern California regional rail network, by furnishing an intermodal connection between BART and Altamont Corridor rail. The opportunities for such connectivity are discussed below in the context of each potential alignment, and will also be a topic in Part 2 of this post.
BART to Livermore: Alignment Alternatives
The Livermore BART DPEIR is a definitive, albeit preliminary, step forward in what promises to be a lengthy planning and funding process. The environmental document examines 9 alternatives that include variations on a few basic flavor of alignments. These alignments collectively feature a handful of station sites and three potential sites for future rail yards. The upcoming goal will be to whittle down the list of alternatives and adopt a preferred alternative. The images directly below show all alternatives on a single map, or you can click here to view a full-size PDF.
Alternatives. Top: west half (Dublin/Pleasanton to Downtown Livermore).
Bottom: east half (through Greenville East). Click here for a full-size PDF.
The alignments (other than the standard “No Build” alternative) are summarized below. All alternatives continue in the I-580 median east of BART’s current Dublin/Pleasanton terminus for a certain distance, but then split off at different points near the Livermore Municipal Airport. The routes range from 5.2 to 13.2 miles long, and travel times are generally estimated at one minute per mile. Ridership projections (given below) target that about 80% of the extension’s ridership would consist of new riders. The projections are, per usual, high. On an average per-station basis, they resemble San Jose’s overstated figures, although Livermore’s projections are for the year 2035. The cost estimates (also given below) are in 2009 dollars.
Alternative 1: This route follows the I-580 median at grade for most of its length with an elevated structure at the eastern edge, allowing the track to curve northward and then duck under I-580, aligning parallel to the Union Pacific right-of-way near Greenville Road. Alternative 1 includes a new rail yard north of I-580, as well as two new stations: a median station at Isabel, and an intermodal BART/Altamont station at Greenville East that would replace the current Vasco station.
(Estimated Cost: $2.92 billion. 38,100 daily entries and exits.)
Alternative 1A: In contrast to Alternative 1, where the track follows the I-580 median for most of the extension, in Alternative 1A the track diverges from the I-580 median within one-and-a-half miles of Dublin/Pleasanton, ascending via elevated structure along El Charro Road, and then afterwards on retained fill to align along the UP right-of-way. Alternative 1A includes the same Greenville yard north of I-580 as Alternative 1, as well as two new stations: an intermodal BART/Altamont station in Downtown Livermore, and a BART-only Greenville East station.
(Estimated Cost: $3.61 billion. 35,300 daily entries and exits.)
Alternative 1B: This alternative is very similar to Alternative 1A, with respect to its configuration along the I-580 median, El Charro Road, and the UP right-of-way approach to Downtown Livermore. The stations and rail yard are also the same as in Alternative 1A. The main difference is visible in the sketches located on the right: east of Downtown Livermore, the track in Alternative 1B follow the segment of ex-SP right-of-way.
(Estimated Cost: $3.65 billion. 35,300 daily entries and exits.)
Alternative 2: Like Alternative 1, this alternative includes a lengthy initial segment at grade in the I-580 median (about six miles). Leaving the median, the track ascends in an elevated structure along Las Positas Road, and then aligning east onto the UP right-of-way. Alternative 2 includes a new rail yard east of Vasco station, as well as two new stations: a median station at Isabel (as in Alternative 1), and a BART/Altamont intermodal station at the site of the current Vasco station.
(Estimated Cost: $3.28 billion. 35,400 daily entries and exits.)
Alternative 2A: This is basically a hybrid of Alternatives 1A and 2. The western segment of the route (along the I-580 median, El Charro Road, and approach to Downtown Livermore) follows 1A. East of Downtown Livermore, the track follows the UP right-of-way but with a short 0.3-mile elevated segment crossing over the right-of-way. Alternative 2A includes the Downtown Livermore station — and, as in Alternative 2, a Vasco station and nearby rail yard. Both proposed BART stations would be intermodal Altamont stations.
(Estimated Cost: $3.8 billion. 35,200 daily entries and exits.)
Alternative 3: This shorter alternative is notable for its subway. As in Alternatives 1 and 2, at grade track in the I-580 median extends to the Isabel station (but unlike Alternatives 1 and 2, the station would be below-grade in the median). The track then dives into a subway under the eastbound lanes of I-580, traveling under Portola Avenue and Junction Avenue, and finally terminating at a subway station in Downtown Livermore. This downtown terminus would provide an intermodal Altamont connection, though it would be configured differently from the downtown stations in other alternatives. East of downtown, the track would resurface and lead to a new rail yard.
(Estimated Cost: $3.47 billion. 34,300 daily entries and exits.)
Alternative 3A: This alternative adopts a variation on the route of Alternatives 1A, 1B, and 2A, but is notable for its downtown elevated segment. As in previous alternatives, track in the I-580 median curves southward, is elevated along El Charro Road, and then follows the UP right-of-way on retained fill. In Alternative 3A, though, the track is then elevated through downtown. East of downtown, the track leads to a new rail yard. This alternative has two stations along the UP right-of-way: one station at Isabel/Stanley, and the elevated Downtown Livermore station, both of which would provide intermodal connections to the Altamont corridor.
(Estimated Cost: $3.38 billion. 33,600 daily entries and exits.)
Alternative 4: This alternative is the shortest of the bunch — a single station 5.2-mile eastward extension within the I-580 median, terminating at the Isabel station. Tail tracks east of the station could be built to hold six ten-car trains, but there would otherwise be little space for storage and maintenance. Alternative 4 does not facilitate an intermodal Altamont connection. It was basically conceived as the initial operating segment of a two-phase extension.
(Estimated Cost: $1.12 billion. 25,100 daily entries and exits.)
Alternative 5: This is the second-shortest alternative of the bunch, and it is notable for being the shortest extension that could facilitate an intermodal Altamont connection. Alternative 5 (which includes the elevated El Charro Road segment) terminates at the intermodal Isabel/Stanley station, and is basically an initial operating segment of Alternative 3A. As with Alternative 4, maintenance yard space is limited except for tail tracks east of the station.
(Estimated Cost: $1.61 billion. 23,100 daily entries and exits.)
More to come in Part 2.
All images are courtesy of BART.