Agenda Item # 17
||April 8, 2003
||Committee Meeting Date:
||April 17, 2003
||Board Meeting Date:
||May 1, 2003
||Transit Planning and Operations Committee
| ||Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority|
| ||Board of Directors|
| || |
|THROUGH:||Peter M. Cipolla|
| ||General Manager|
| || |
|FROM:||Michael P. Evanhoe|
| ||Chief Development Officer|
| || |
||Recommendations for the Downtown East Valley Santa Clara/Alum Rock Corridor
Approve recommendations for the Santa Clara/Alum Rock Corridor, which includes advancing both the Enhanced Bus Service and the Single-Car Light Rail alternatives in the Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR).
The Downtown East Valley PAB approved a detailed project description for the Capitol Expressway Light Rail Project in June 2002. Technical environmental studies are substantially complete and circulation of the Draft EIS/EIR for the Capitol Expressway project is currently anticipated in Summer 2003.
Recognizing the numerous competing needs and interests in the corridor, a streetcar mode similar to that operated in Portland, Oregon, was introduced as a potential option in Spring 2002. In late 2002, it was determined that a focused evaluation of the potential modes, (i.e., light rail, streetcar, and enhanced bus) and alignments was needed before proceeding with the environmental document. The intent of the evaluation was to assure a well-informed decision on the best transit solution for this diverse corridor. The study process incorporated both a technical evaluation and an intensive community/stakeholder involvement process, including interactive workshops hosted by the Downtown East Valley PAB and other outreach activities.
The focused study included six discreet alternatives three Light Rail alternatives, two Streetcar alternatives, and one Enhanced Bus alternative. All six alternatives extended from the Alum Rock Light Rail Station along the future Capitol Line to the Diridon Station in Downtown San Jose, following an at-grade alignment on Capitol Avenue to Alum Rock Avenue and continuing along Santa Clara Street to Almaden Boulevard. Specific routing options were considered west of Almaden Boulevard, depending on the alternative.
VTA evaluated the alternatives using a set of criteria that was established based on the goals of the project and input received from the community. A total of forty-nine criteria in fifteen subcategories were used in the evaluation, including items such as the quality and quantity of transit service provided, ridership, the fit of the alternative with the character and scale of the community, traffic impacts, transit-oriented development potential, social/economic equity, feasibility of implementation, compatibility with the existing transit system, duration and extent of construction impacts, cost, and level of community support.
Based upon the technical analysis and community input received, VTA staff developed preliminary staff recommendations for the corridor, which were presented to the Downtown East Valley PAB on March 6, 2003. An information packet regarding the recommendations was then developed and disseminated broadly for public review.
On March 24, 2003, the PAB held a special meeting at the Mexican Heritage Plaza to provide the community and stakeholders an opportunity to comment on the staff recommendations and on April 3, 2003, the PAB adopted the recommendations, as follows:
1) The Enhanced Bus Service alternative should be included in the EIS/EIR and further developed during Conceptual Engineering (CE). This option provides the best overall balance in terms of transit service, public support and community impact. Santa Clara/Alum Rock is a proven bus corridor and this alternative can provide greatly improved service in a cost-effective manner and with less community disruption. The Enhanced Bus service may also be able to begin sooner by reducing the need to coordinate with BART construction.
This alternative would include a terminus station at the Alum Rock Light Rail Station on Capitol Avenue, and then follow an alignment along Alum Rock Avenue and Santa Clara Street from Capitol Avenue to the Diridon Station in Downtown San Jose, with potential alignment options west of Almaden Boulevard to be further explored during the EIS/EIR process.
2) The Single Car Light Rail alternative should continue to be evaluated during the EIS/EIR and CE phase. This option is preferred to other rail options because it provides an adequate level of capacity, connects well with the existing rail system and has significant community support. Continuing to study this option would allow the benefits and impacts of a rail alternative to be fully evaluated before the final project-level decision is made on the preferred mode for the corridor. This alternative is based on the use of current VTA light rail vehicles, but will also address potential vehicle modifications that might impact some concerns.
Although the operating plan will be developed during the EIS/EIR process, the alignment would allow for direct service from the Eastridge Transit Center to the San Jose Diridon Station via the future Capitol Expressway and Capitol (Avenue) light rail trackway to Alum Rock Avenue, and would then follow Alum Rock Avenue (center-running in exclusive right-of-way east of King Road, side-running within the traffic lane west of King Road), Santa Clara Street (side-running within the traffic lane), Almaden Boulevard (center-running in exclusive right-of-way), San Fernando Street (center-running in exclusive right-of-way), and connect to the Diridon Light Rail Station under construction as part of the Vasona Light Rail Project.
3) The Two Car Light Rail alternative should be dropped from further consideration due to the significant community impacts associated with this option.
4) The European Modern Streetcar alternative should be dropped due to the importance of an integrated and connected rail system, the unique requirements and costs of this option and the lack of community support.
5) The California Modern Streetcar alternative should also be dropped due to the lack of full system integration, limitations on capacity, the potential difficulty of a new vehicle design and the lack of community support.
The recommended alternatives are the two that were most strongly supported by the community and stakeholders. In addition, the recommendations are generally consistent with the recommendations reviewed and approved by the San Jose City Council on March 18, 2003, and transmitted in a letter from Mayor Ron Gonzales to the Downtown East Valley PAB on March 21, 2003.
VTA anticipates further project development and refinement of the alternatives, including continuing dialogue with the community, over the next several months as the technical environmental studies proceed. Several issues will be addressed during this timeframe, for example, specific transit station location and design, including streetscape modifications and the interface with other connecting services, a plan for replacing on-street parking and/or loading areas impacted by the project, a mitigation plan for construction impacts, and an operating plan for analysis in the EIS/EIR.
The Board of Directors could modify the current recommendations, choose different mode and/or alignment options, or decide not to approve the recommendations at this time. Approval of project recommendations is needed to move forward with the EIS/EIR. An approved EIS/EIR is necessary to allow local agencies to make future land use and policy decisions that integrate and coordinate with the ultimate transportation system in the Santa Clara/Alum Rock Corridor.
The CE and EIS/EIR phases of the Santa Clara/Alum Rock Corridor project are funded through previous Board actions. No project development phases beyond the EIS/EIR are currently funded.
The Downtown East Valley Santa Clara/Alum Rock Corridor is one of the transportation elements approved by Santa Clara County voters in 2000 Measure A. The estimated capital cost of the Santa Clara/Alum Rock Corridor project ranges from approximately $62 million for the Enhanced Bus Service alternative to $277 million for the Single Car Light Rail Alternative (in 2002 dollars).
For Attachments Contact the Board Secretary's Office
|Prepared by: ||Julie Render, Principal Transportation Planner
|Reviewed by: ||James R. Lightbody, Deputy Director, Transit Planning and Development
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