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Board of Directors Meeting

December 15, 2000


Summary Minutes

I. CALLED TO ORDER at 9:35 a.m.

ROLL CALL: Members Present: Alvarado, Beall, Chavez, Eakins, Gonzales, Kennedy, D., LeZotte, Lucas, McLemore (Ex-Officio), Powers, Valerio, Woody

Members Absent: Nadler


Robert Karlak, interested citizen, expressed concern regarding excessive noise generated by traffic on Highway 85 through Saratoga and Cupertino.

III. Received opening remarks from Jeff Davis, Administrator of the Measure B Program regarding the 1996 Measure B Transportation Improvement Program.

Received introduction of District 5 Supervisor-elect Liz Kniss.

IV. Heard a report regarding the status of the Revenue and Expenditure Plan for the 1996 Measure B Transportation Improvement Program, including updated revenue projections and considered the use of a potential program surplus.

VTA Staff reported that the $14 million deficit included in the last year’s Revenue and Expenditure Plan is gone and there may be surpluses that exceed $100 million. The veracity of the sales tax forecasts was referred to County Staff who concluded that there may be a case for increasing or revising the sales tax forecast upward.

VTA Staff stated that County and VTA Staff agree that we should proceed cautiously and further stated that until the preponderance of the projects are into the construction phase and bids are in, the respective boards should not consider funding for new non-Measure B projects.

V. Heard comprehensive project status reports and considered recommendations for the 1996 Measure B Transportation Improvement Program.

Queried whether it has been difficult getting reasonable and sufficient bids from contractors due to the current market. VTA Staff reported that there have been three to four bidders on each contract package and noted that bidding is competitive for heavy civil projects.

Regarding the Vasona Light Rail Project, queried the rationale of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requiring grade separation at the Hamilton Crossing. VTA Staff reported that it is the CPUC’s opinion that traffic volume across Hamilton Avenue is so heavy, with light rail crossing every five minutes, it will pose an unsafe condition. Staff’s opinion is that the issue is primarily one of volume and noted that traffic flows very slowly across Hamilton Avenue. As part of the review process, the CPUC has requested that VTA perform a hazard analysis for each crossing. The analyses have been completed and submitted to CPUC. Based on national standards, it is VTA’s opinion that this crossing can be operated safely at grade.

VTA Staff verified that Hamilton Avenue is, in fact, included in the project at this time.

Queried available alternatives if CPUC requires a grade separation. VTA Staff reported that there is an appeal process. The case would have to be heard before the CPUC.

VTA Staff stated an opinion that the traffic situations caused by the interchange at Hamilton Avenue are not related to the Light Rail Project and further stated that the traffic problem is Caltrans’ responsibility. If the interchange were redone, the traffic problems would be eased.

VTA Staff reported that the environmental document for the Route 101 Widening Project is in circulation and the 45-day comment period is now open. Staff reported further that at the VTA Board of Directors’ Meeting of February 1, 2001, Staff will recommend its alternative of six lane plus High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV). The VTA Board of Directors will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

Requested a copy of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Noted that the current schedule shows a completion date of summer 2003 and queried best-case scenario for early completion. VTA Staff reported that best-case scenario for early completion would be four to six months earlier.

VTA Staff reported that lead from leaded gasoline has contaminated six inches of soil involved in the Route 880 Widening Project. VTA is sponsoring an amendment to state legislation that would allow highway reuse of material if total lead concentration is less than the existing statutory definition for hazardous levels of lead.

Requested review of this Legislation by the County Public Health Officer as well as the County Health Department and advised that care needs to be taken to ensure that the statute is a health-based standard.

County staff reported that the County Health Officer has not reviewed the legislation, but is generally aware of it and supports the direction to be taken.

Regarding Route 87 (N) HOV Lanes between I-280 and Julian Street in downtown San Jose, queried what is on the planning books on Route 87 just south of I-280 where the merge takes place daily. VTA Staff reported that there is a merge problem at I-280 southbound to Route 87 and suggested a set of braided ramps there. VTA will come back to the Joint Boards in the spring with an add-on project for the braided ramps.

Requested that Mr. Evanhoe make it a priority to stay in touch with the Board regarding this issue.

VTA Staff provided booklets and presented an overview of the initial findings on the geo-technical investigation of the Route 87 settlement problem.

VTA Board Member McLemore left his seat at 10:27 a.m.

Queried the level of concern over safety of motorists travelling the roadway or persons in light rail vehicles. VTA Staff reported that the issue is that there will not be damage to the bridge structure and reported further that VTA needs to work with Caltrans to fix the drainage system. Unless both drainage systems are fixed concurrently, subsidence will continue.

Expressed appreciation that Caltrans is taking responsibility for costs and that Caltrans wants VTA to manage this in connection with the improvement project.

Queried the construction schedule after the year of additional study and monitoring. Reported that during the year of additional monitoring, mapping and determining if the settlement is complete, VTA will be in design and environmental clearance on this project. Eighteen months of design and environmental work will be done before construction and VTA wants to continue with these and work on them concurrently.

Suggested signage indicating that there is a problem with the pavement.

Expressed concern regarding the wobbliness of sidewalks in the surrounding neighborhoods and stated that there may not have been enough prep work on the pavement given the severity of the problem. Requested to be kept informed as the monitoring proceeds.

Requested clarification of the term, “back water” which was explained as old river pieces ending as a swampy area. Stated that there is a lot of development in this area with homes that need foundation changes every eight to ten years and that the Santa Clara BART Station area is starting to have problems during the rainy season with flooded basements.

Queried whether there is a role that the Water District can participate in terms of helping to maintain the land in terms of drainage. VTA Staff reported that this issue will be discussed with the Water District.

Queried whether another earthquake in the area could cause another problem with even further settlement. The surcharge embankments were placed prior to 1989. The highway embankment itself was completed in 1991. All post-construction settlement discussed occurred after that. There was no contribution from the earthquake at that location.

Queried whether estimated costs include the year of extra study and monitoring. VTA Staff reported that the cost of the extra study is included in the estimated costs. This issue needs to be discussed with Caltrans regarding what and how much they want to do for the additional monitoring.

Queried whether Caltrans will pay a share of the costs. VTA Staff reported that VTA may be back before both Boards to request Measure B funds for independent monitoring.

VTA Staff reported that the current project under construction by Caltrans on Route 237/880 Interchange in Milpitas is behind schedule and over budget. This will delay our project accordingly.

Queried how the delay affects the Dixon Landing Project. VTA Staff reported that the Dixon Landing Project goes to construction summer 2001. There has been a problem getting PG&E’s two gas pipelines relocated. PG&E is a bit behind schedule; have exceeded their budget; and have made a request of Fremont and Milpitas for an additional $8 million for the project. If we keep the existing project on Route 237 that is under construction and capture some of the schedule overage, the Dixon Landing Project should be okay. Expressed concern regarding the time line of the project and the “use it or lose it provision” that ends on June 30, 2001.

VTA Staff emphasized that these are two projects under the new Senate Bill (SB) 45 that need to be closely monitored due to the fact that the County has major investments in both projects. Further stressed the need to get that phase of Dixon Landing voted upon by June of 2001 or we could stand to lose significant money and delay the project by up to two years.

Requested that the next report on the Route 237/880 Interchange include the implications on the Dixon Landing Project to ensure that everything possible is done to keep the project on schedule to avoid losing State and Federal funds.

Requested clarification regarding the roles VTA and Caltrans play in this interchange and queried why VTA Staff is marshalling the effort. VTA Staff reported that Senator Cox’s Bill SB 45 changed the rules regarding financing for projects.

Requested that Staff does not hesitate to return to the Board to recommend supplemental staff resources for more on-site monitoring at the February 2001 Board of Directors’ Meeting.

Regarding Route 17 Improvements, requested an update to the modifications to San Tomas between Winchester and White Oaks as well as updates to Sunnyoaks. VTA Staff reported there will be another auxiliary lane to get onto southbound Route 17 and updates to Sunnyoaks will be discussed further at a later date.

VTA Board Member Woody left her seat at 10:55 a.m.

Queried whether all Caltrans projects are completed on Route 152.

VTA Staff distributed a handout regarding pavement management and provided an update on expenditures.

Requested that city representatives provide a plan regarding how these funds are to be spent.

Requested clarification regarding pavement management funding, specifically if funding may be used appropriately for other transportation within the community. VTA Staff reported that cities must first certify to VTA that they no unmet pavement management needs and that the project is brought to VTA for review and approval so that it meets the spirit of congestion relief.

Queried the time line procedures for small cities to avail themselves of this funding. VTA Staff reported that between now and June of 2001 the city staff needs to come in with proposals to spend the next two amounts of $29,700 and $29,800.

Requested clarification of the chart provided regarding the terms “committed” and “spent”.

County Staff provided a report on the Pavement Management Program noting that county obligations are higher than actual reimbursement requests to date.

VTA Board Member Gonzales left his seat at 11:12 a.m.

Queried whether the concept of “cool communities” has been included in the Pavement Management Program in order to reduce the heat island effect and requested that this technology be pursued.

VTA Board Member Valerio left his seat at 11:16 a.m.

Queried whether Santa Teresa Expressway in Gilroy is part of the County system and further queried whether any work is planned. County Staff reported that there are a number of funding sources for pavement management and noted that all of the roads in the County road network are an explicit part of the program.

County Staff reported that the Bicycle Program, Level of Service and Traffic Signal Synchronization have not received inflation adjustments in our cash flow. This issue will be discussed at the spring workshop meeting.

VI. Considered the Measure B budget amendment for the Vasona Light Rail Project, in accordance with Article V – Project Definition of the Master Agreement between Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and County of Santa Clara with possible action of Approve, Approve with Amendment, Do Not Approve.

VTA Staff explained the request for a $20 million budget adjustment to the Vasona Corridor Light Rail Project.

Queried whether the cost for a possible need for a grade separation at Hamilton Avenue of $20 million is in addition to these costs and if so, what will be the source of funding. Further queried whether a portion of the costs could be delayed.

VTA Staff reported that if the grade separation at Hamilton Avenue is needed, staff would need to return to the Board to augment the budget. County staff stated that the answer to this query is precisely why we need to be cautiously optimistic with the apparent increase in revenues which we are showing here and why we don’t want to consider additional projects that are not in the Measure B Program due to for the potential for unanticipated costs.

Advised that the Hamilton Avenue Station Project was a part of the ballot measure.

Commented that the Hamilton Avenue Station Project is to be restoration, not an addition.

Commented that the Field Offices on sight are a very important part of any project particularly from a public relations aspect.

M/S/C (Powers/LeZotte) to approve as presented the 1996 Measure B Transportation Improvement Project budget amendment for the Vasona Light Rail Project, in accordance with Article V, Project Definition of the Master Agreement between Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and County of Santa Clara.

VII. ADJOURNED at 11:27 a.m.