Subject: BART ALIGNMENT AND STATION LOCATIONS
COUNCIL DISTRICT: 3, 4, 6
SNI AREA: 13th Street, Five Wounds/ Brookwood Terrace, University,
St. James Square, Delmas Park, and Burbank/Del Monte
Approval of recommendations to the VTA and BART Board of Directors on the alignment and station locations for proposed BART service in the City of San Jose.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is the lead agency for the Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Corridor project. The scope of the project is to extend the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system into Santa Clara County with stations in the cities of Milpitas, San Jose and Santa Clara. A map of the project location is shown on Attachment 1.
The basic configuration of the BART project was adopted in November 2001, following completion of a “Major Investment Study”. The total length of the project is approximately 16 miles. The alignment begins at the planned Warm Springs BART station in Fremont, extends to Downtown San Jose, and terminates near the Mineta San Jose International Airport. The alignment follows the Union Pacific Railroad corridor between Fremont and the vicinity of the Route 101/Alum Rock Avenue interchange. The alignment through the Downtown San Jose area consists of a 4.5-mile subway tunnel.
The cost of the project is approximately $3.7 billion (current dollar value). Nearly 80% of the project funding is available from local and state sources. The remaining funding in the amount of $840 million is being pursued through federal sources. The goal for project completion is 2012.
The VTA is now preparing preliminary design plans and environmental studies for the project to support approval of an Environmental Impact Report and Statement (EIR/EIS). As part of this effort, several refinements to the BART alignment and station locations have been studied. The following eight design issues have been identified for the San Jose segment of the project:
1. Alignment at Montague/Capitol (near San Jose/Milpitas border)
2. Location of Berryessa Station
3. Route 101 Access and Parking at Berryessa and Alum Rock Stations
4. Alignment and Station Location at Alum Rock
5. Alignment Under San Fernando or Santa Clara Streets
6. Three versus Two Downtown San Jose Stations
7. Location of Alignment and Station at Diridon/Arena
8. Airport Connection
For each of the issues, a technical evaluation has been completed assessing the factors related to transportation service, land use integration, environmental impacts, construction impacts, community support, and cost. At this time, policy direction is needed regarding the design alternatives in order to facilitate continued progress of the project. The selection of the design alternatives will form the basis of the project description to be addressed in the EIR/EIS.
The Policy Advisory Board (PAB) for the project is scheduled to approve recommendations on the design alternatives and project description at their meeting on May 29 (the PAB members include Mayor Gonzales and Councilmember Chavez). Subsequently, the VTA and BART Board of Directors are scheduled to approve a BART project description at their joint meeting on June 28, 2002. Recent public input on the project design issues was obtained through community meetings held on May 13th (Santa Clara), May 15th (San Jose), and May 16th (Milpitas).
The extension of BART service to the City of San Jose will provide substantial community benefits and it will be a significant catalyst for advancing many City policy goals related to transportation, land use and economic development. Specifically, the project supports City objectives related to viable transportation choices, convenient commute, transit oriented development, “smart growth” and Downtown revitalization. Accordingly, the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Redevelopment Agency (SJRA), and the Department of Planning Building and Code Enforcement (PBCE) have played an active role in the development of the project.
The DOT/SJRA/PBCE staff team has worked closely and has regular monthly meetings with VTA, BART and project consultants to facilitate development of the project and to advocate for the City’s interests. The following summary analysis and recommendations relating to the BART project design issues have been jointly prepared by the DOT/SJRA/PBCE staff team. A consolidated list of the staff recommendations is provided in Attachment 2. It is noted that detailed technical drawings and data are available for each of the design options. This information has been provided to the City’s PAB members (Mayor Gonzalez and Councilmember Chavez) and to the other Council offices directly affected by the BART alignment (Councilmembers Reed and Yeager). Further, it is noted that several of the design issues and options are interrelated with each other, as is discussed in the following analysis.
Issue 1 - Alignment at Montague/Capitol (VTA Issue #1B)
Two vertical alignment options have been identified for the BART crossing of Montague Expressway and Capitol Avenue, located just north of the San Jose border with Milpitas.
§ Option 1: BART At-grade
§ Option 2: BART Depressed in Retained Trench – Recommended
The depressed BART alignment and station platform works better for station access by auto, bus, bike and walking. It has advantages for future land development, has less community impact (noise, visual, traffic, construction), has a lower cost, and does not preclude future grade separation or modification of either Montague Expressway or Capitol Avenue. A two-level vertical transfer will be required between the depressed BART Station and the elevated Capitol/Tasman LRT line. Special design attention will need to be given to this issue to assure convenient passenger transfers between BART and LRT.
Issue 2 - Location of Berryessa Station (VTA Issue #2B)
Two options have been studied for locating the Berryessa BART station in the area between Berryessa Road and Mabury Road.
§ Option 1: South of Berryessa - Recommended
§ Option 2: Midway Between Berryessa and Mabury
Option 1 is recommended as it is the only option technically compatible with recommendations for Issues 4 and 5 (see below). Further, this option avoids impact to Water District facilities, has a lower cost, and provides a more central station location for future transit oriented development opportunities. Option 1 has the potential for greater impacts to the Flea Market; however, the planning for the station area is focused on minimizing this effect, and is being coordinated with the Flea Market owner and vendors.
Issue 3 - Route 101 Access and Parking at Berryessa and Alum Rock Stations (VTA Issue #2A/3B)
A large portion of the BART ridership is expected to be from residents driving to a BART station from Route 101 and parking their car. Berryessa and Alum Rock are the stations nearest to Route 101. Four freeway access and station parking options have been considered.
§ Option 1: Alum Rock Parking Facility with 2,500 Spaces (and 900 Spaces at Berryessa)
§ Option 2: Alum Rock Parking Facility with 2,500 Spaces plus Direct Route 101 Access (and 900 Spaces at Berryessa) – Recommended for further study
§ Option 3: Reduce Alum Rock Parking Facility to 1,500 Spaces; Build Route 101/Mabury Interchange; Increase Berryessa Parking to 1,900 Spaces – Recommended for further study (and to include “full” and “partial” 101/Mabury interchange options)
§ Option 4: No Alum Rock Station and/or Parking
The neighborhood community around the Alum Rock station (Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace SNI area) has expressed significant concerns over the size and traffic impacts associated with a large parking facility (2,500 spaces) at the Alum Rock station. Some members of the community have suggested eliminating the station and/or the parking. Another option has been developed that would shift some of the parking capacity to the Berryessa Station, if Route 101 freeway access can be provided at Mabury Road.
The City’s General Plan includes providing a future interchange at Route 101 and Mabury Road, and Caltrans has approved a Project Study Report for the interchange. The interchange would provide significant access benefits for existing and future development in the Berryessa area and would relieve traffic congestion at the adjacent Route 101 interchanges at Oakland Road and Julian/McKee. Historically, the interchange has been opposed by the residential community along Taylor Street, west of Route 101.
Staff recommends further study of Options 2 and 3, with a focus on developing an implementation strategy for the 101/Mabury interchange that addresses project funding and mitigating potential impacts along the Taylor Street corridor (e.g., traffic calming). A range of interchange options should be studied that considers “full” or “partial” freeway access configurations in order to evaluate issues related to community interface, traffic impacts and cost. A “full” interchange is the standard Caltrans design providing access in all freeway and local street directions. The estimated cost of a “full” interchange is approximately $45 million.
Also, the quantity, phasing, and distribution of parking at the Alum Rock and Berryessa Stations should be evaluated further to avoid the potential of parking shortages that could result in neighborhood parking intrusion. Further, the use of “dynamic” parking guidance signs along the freeway is suggested to direct motorists to the available parking supply.
The Alum Rock station is vital component of the BART system and its integration with other connecting travel modes, which includes highway access (particularly from Route 101) and transit connections (particularly from East San Jose). Also, the station area provides substantial development opportunities that would serve the surrounding community and support overall transit system ridership. The option of eliminating the station and/or the parking (Option 4) would significantly compromise the overall goals of the BART project. However, it is important that the design of the station address the concerns and interests that have been expressed to date by the community. The VTA and consultant team is currently working with the community and City staff to plan the station area in a manner that incorporates the vision of the SNI plan for the Five Wounds /Brookwood Terrace Neighborhood.
Issue 4 - Alignment and Station at Alum Rock (VTA Issue #3A)
Five options have been studied for the Alum Rock Station alignment. Option 1 corresponds to the San Fernando Street alignment (not recommended) and Options 2 through 5 correspond to the Santa Clara Street alignment.
§ Option 1: Alum Rock Station to San Fernando
§ Option 2: Alum Rock Station on Loop to Santa Clara – Recommended for further study
§ Option 3: Alum Rock Station on Diagonal to Santa Clara – Recommended for further study
§ Option 4: Roosevelt Park Station on Santa Clara
§ Option 5: Julian Street Station
The primary transportation service goals for locating the Alum Rock station relate to providing 1) convenient transfers to existing and future East San Jose transit, 2) good future transit oriented development opportunities, and 3) convenient connection to parking facilities from Route 101. Only options 2 and 3 meet these criteria and are compatible with the recommended Santa Clara Street alignment (see Issue 5). It is recommended that both options be studied further. Option 2 has the benefits of lower cost ($25 million) and less near-term development impacts. Option 3 has the benefits of less residential neighborhood impact and better BART operations.
Issue 5 - Alignment Under San Fernando or Santa Clara Streets (VTA Issue #4A)
Perhaps the most significant of all the BART design issue decisions relates to the alignment of BART in the Downtown Core area. The location of the BART line and the corresponding stations will create hubs of pedestrian activity and will have a significant influence on the surrounding land use, in particular retail opportunities. Two alignment options have been studied.
§ Option 1: San Fernando Street
§ Option 2: Santa Clara Street – Recommended
Past BART studies prepared more than a decade ago, identified San Fernando Street as the preferred alignment for Downtown San Jose. The primary influencing factors were proximity to San Jose State and Downtown cultural facilities, and a perceived lower construction cost and impact. However, the current and more in-depth BART studies along with community outreach efforts have identified many significant issues with the San Fernando alignment. These include community opposition to tunneling under San Fernando Street in the residential areas between 10th and 28th Streets, extensive utility impacts, adjacency to “sensitive” historic buildings (St. Joseph’s Cathedral and Art Museum), and a narrow street right-of-way that would create more severe station construction impacts.
Further, current land use plans, as documented in the Downtown Strategy Plan, now focus on Santa Clara Street as being the “Main Street” of San Jose and serving as “an active bustling, urban, transit boulevard”, extending from the Arena to the new Civic Plaza . The street corridor is intended to be lively, pedestrian oriented, and with active ground floor uses. The location of BART along this corridor would definitely support this Downtown development strategy.
Santa Clara Street is now strongly recommended as the preferred alignment as it best meets the City’s land use and transportation goals, has a lower cost (by $68 million), and has the highest level of expressed community support. It is noted that the impact of construction on Santa Clara Street is a major issue for the Downtown community. Since Santa Clara Street already has vital businesses, significant pedestrian activity, and high volumes of vehicle traffic (including transit), the management of construction impacts will be of utmost importance. This issue is discussed further in a later section of this report titled “Construction Impact Mitigation”.
Issue 6 - Three versus Two Downtown San Jose Stations (VTA Issue #4B)
Two Downtown station concepts have been studied:
§ Option 1: Three Stations - Recommended
§ Option 2: Two Stations
Past planning for BART service in Downtown San Jose has included three stations in the core area at the following locations (based on the recommended Santa Clara Street alignment):
1. Civic Plaza/San Jose State University - located between Fourth and Seventh Streets
2. Market Street - located between the Transit Mall (First Street) and Almaden Avenue
3. Diridon/Arena - located between Autumn Street and Stockton Avenue
The spacing of the three BART stations is similar to that provided in the urban centers of Oakland and San Francisco. In an effort to reduce cost, consideration was given to combining the Civic Plaza /SJSU and Market Street stations, with a single station centered on the Transit Mall (Option 2). This is not recommended due to the negative impacts of reduced ridership, less convenience access to Downtown destinations (especially to San Jose State University), and significant construction impacts to transit service in the Transit Mall. Further, the cost of constructing a third station at some time in the future is prohibitive.
Issue 7 - Location of Alignment and Station at Diridon/Arena (VTA Issue #4C)
§ Option 1: Crandall Street (300’ south of Santa Clara) – Recommended for further study
§ Option 2: South of Santa Clara Street – Recommended for further study
§ Option 3: Santa Clara Street
The key issues associated with locating the Diridon/Arena station relate to providing good connectivity with other transit services at the Diridon Station (bus, LRT, Caltrain, ACE, Amtrak, and future High Speed Rail) and to support existing and future development in the vicinity. Options 1 and 2 best meet these objectives and are currently being studied by the SJRA, City and VTA as part of a strategic development plan for the Diridon/Arena area. This effort is scheduled to be concluded within six months and will provide a more comprehensive basis for selecting a preferred BART alignment. At this time, it is recommended that Option 3 be dropped from consideration; this option has the highest cost, has the greatest construction impacts, and is furthest away from the Diridon station.
Issue 8 - Airport Connection (VTA Issue #5A)
§ Option 1 – Automated People Mover System - Recommended
§ Option 2 – Direct BART Connection
The initial design concepts for connection of BART service to the Mineta San Jose International Airport have consisted of using an Automated People Mover (APM) system that integrates all rail transit connections (LRT, Caltrain, ACE, and BART) and multiple airport facilities (the new Central Terminal, Terminal A, rental car facilities and public parking). Significant community interest has been expressed in considering a direct BART connection to the Airport (Option 2).
Continuation of the APM concept is recommended because it has the advantages of 1) better overall transit system ridership and connectivity, 2) better access to multiple Airport destinations, 3) better ability to manage Airport security, and 4) substantially lower cost. The added cost of direct BART to Airport service is in the range of $300 to $400 million.
Further, the ridership for the direct BART connection is projected to be very low. The alignment of the BART corridor predominantly serves regional transportation access between the East Bay and Silicon Valley. This service area is less than 10% of the market for the Mineta San Jose International Airport. While the potential for having direct BART access between the Airport and Downtown is an appealing concept, it doesn’t measure well on a cost effectiveness scale when compared to other existing and planned travel alternatives such as taxis, Downtown hotel shuttles, and the planned APM/LRT connection.
Construction Impact Mitigation
A very significant issue for the BART project relates to the manner in which construction impacts are managed and mitigated. This is a particularly sensitive issue at locations where underground stations are proposed within Santa Clara Street (Civic Plaza/SJSU and Market Street). The VTA has committed to working closely with the Downtown community, SJRA and City to develop and implement a construction impact mitigation plan. This plan will be developed over the next six months and specific measures will be incorporated in to the EIR/EIS for the BART project. Among the issues the plan is expected to address include:
§ Alternative construction methods
§ Protection of structures from settlement and vibration impacts
§ Management of work schedules, noise and dust
§ Provisions for pedestrian and vehicle traffic, including transit, business pick-up/delivery and limitations on construction vehicles
§ Maintenance of utility services
§ Construction site advertisement and promotional activities for affected businesses
§ Community outreach/communication before and during construction
To help develop a BART construction impact mitigation plan, staff is researching the “best practices” used on other major construction projects, such as the “Big Dig” in Boston. Also, staff will work with the VTA to study various underground station construction methods ranging from “underground excavation” to “cut and cover”. In addition, it is noted that the City and Redevelopment Agency are developing general policies and procedures on the subject of construction impact mitigation in response to a Council Referral.
The BART construction mitigation plan is expected to be developed as a “next step” in the project development process. The VTA has committed to continue working closely with staff and the community (in particular with the Downtown Association) in creating the plan. However, to emphasize the importance of this issue, it is recommended the City Council adopt the following policy direction for input to the VTA and BART Board of Directors:
§ Prepare a construction impact mitigation plan by December 2002, working in coordination with the affected community, and to include a study of alternative construction methods for the Downtown stations, ranging from “underground excavation” to “cut and cover”.
The VTA conducts public meetings on the BART project at key study milestones during the project development process. The most recent public meeting in San Jose was held on May 15th. In addition, special workshops and community meetings are convened as needed. On April 29th, the VTA held a special workshop on tunneling and station construction in the Downtown area. On May 10th, the VTA provided a project update presentation at the board meeting of the Downtown Association. Additionally, the VTA works regularly with four Community Working Groups representing Milpitas, the Hostetter/Alum Rock area, Downtown San Jose, and Santa Clara. These groups include representatives of neighborhood and business associations, community organizations, advocacy groups, major property owners, and planning commissioners.
As a next step in the public outreach process, the VTA is scheduled to coordinate community input on station area designs (through August 2002) and on environmental impacts and mitigation, including construction impacts (October through December 2002).
The VTA is preparing an EIR for the BART extension project. A public hearing on the Draft EIR is proposed for February 2003 and with a Final EIR approval proposed for October 2003. The recommendations in this report are part of the development process for defining the scope of the BART project for further environmental study and public review.
DEL D. BORGSDORF
SUSAN F. SHICK