As some of you may be aware, there is a railroad bridge across the Dumbarton Narrows, just south of the existing Dumbarton Road Bridge. This bridge was built by Southern Pacific and was used for many years as a rail shortcut across the Bay. It has been out of service for a long time, and SP sold it to the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, who have long had plans to rebuild the bridge for trans-Bay rail service. I've advocated this myself for years. Studies have shown that Dumbarton Rail is one of the most cost-effective rail projects in the Bay Area. It doesn't have the "sexy" appeal of BART extensions, but it generates a lot of riders and closes a major gap in Bay Area transportation. The planned service would have stations at Union City (adjacent to the BART station), Fremont-Centerville, Willow Street in Newark, Willow Road in Menlo Park/East Palo Alto, and would connect to Caltrain.
The initial service would be modest: Twelve trains per day, six each way, commute-hour only, with three trains heading north at Redwood Junction to San Francisco and three turning South to San Jose. I think the current plans would be for the trains to be operated by Caltrain, which (I hope) means they would not be a separate agency/color scheme/ticketing, but would just look like "more Caltrain service" to the riders. I believe that the initial service would be expanded over time. The critical thing is getting the bridge rebuilt and the long-out-of-service rail line rehabilitated.
Here's the press release from the San Mateo County Transportation Authority:
Dumbarton Rail Corridor Scoping Meetings
Caltrain and the Federal Transit Administration, in cooperation with local agencies, are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the Dumbarton Rail Corridor Project.
The project will extend rail service between Redwood City and Union City by reconstructing an existing rail corridor next to the Dumbarton Bridge. The Scoping Meeting is one of the first steps in the environmental process.
The public is invited to learn about the project and to give comments about the project purpose, the proposed alternatives and the potential environmental impacts.
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006 – 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Newark Community Center, 35501 Cedar Blvd.
Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006 – 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
City of Menlo Park Senior Center, 110 Terminal Ave.
An information meeting on the environmental review process will also be held in the city of Fremont on Nov. 29, 2006. Please reference the City of Fremont webpage for details.
Download information - PDF format
Mailer (PDF, 709.46 KB)
Meeting Handout - Agenda/Info (PDF, 226.86 KB)
Meeting Handout - Comment Form (PDF, 162.87 KB)
I intend to attend one or the other of these meetings -- it may have to be the one in Menlo Park due to a prior commitment on the evening of the 15th -- and I hope that I could persuade some of you who live in the affected areas to also attend, see the presentations and material, and give them (I hope) positive feedback. This project doesn't have really strong champions behind it, despite it being (in my opinion) a far better use of public transit investment funds than wasteful BART extensions, so it needs all of the support it can get. And I was saying that even before I moved to an apartment within walking distance of the Fremont-Centerville train station.