BART Oakland Airport Connector Gets Another $20M

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Airport connector rendering via SF.Streetsblog

    BART's proposed 3.2-mile elevated tramway between the Oakland  Coliseum station and the Oakland airport moved closer to becoming a reality  this week when the California Transportation Commission voted unanimously to  approve $20 million in state funding for the project.

    The sum represents only a small part of the project's estimated  $484 million in total costs, but BART officials said the money is significant  because it helps complete the funding for the project.

    BART spokesman Linton Johnson said the transportation commission's  affirmative vote at today's meeting in Fresno was expected because the state  agency had previously approved the funding two other times.

     He said the commission voted on the project a third time because  opponents had raised procedural concerns.

    The Metropolitan Transportation Commission also approved the $20  million in a 6-2 vote two weeks ago.

    Johnson said work on the connector could begin in six months and  will take about 3.5 or four years to complete.

     The connector, which was first proposed more than 20 years ago,  was approved by the MTC and other agencies in 2009, and work was set to begin  early this year.

    But the Federal Transit Administration created a major roadblock  in February by denying BART $70 million in federal stimulus money to help  fund the project after three advocate groups filed a complaint alleging that  BART failed to evaluate whether the project would provide low-income and  minority communities with a fair share of the project's benefits.

    In addition to the $20 million approved by the state, BART is  filling the $70 million funding gap with loans and money from one of its  reserve funds.

    Opponents of the project say BART could save hundreds of millions  of dollars by developing a rapid bus service between the Coliseum station and  Oakland International Airport that would cost between $83 million and $125  million.