Valley Link: The little engine that could

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Through Veronique Vargas,

Paul Akinjo and

Bernice King-Tingle

The classic children’s book The little engine that could, tells the story of a rambling blue engine that bravely steps forward to save the day – pulling a stranded train up a steep mountain – driven by the anguish it sees in the eyes of its passengers. It’s a story that illustrates how empathy, determination and courage can help overcome insurmountable odds. It may not be much different from the story of Valley Link.

As in the story of the book, there is a steep mountain and a train – a train that may one day save the day for the over 100,000 anguished commuters who drive daily across the Altamont Pass/I-580 corridor in their cars . Most spend an average of 90 minutes each way when moving from affordable housing in San Joaquin County to wage-earning jobs throughout the Bay Area and the majority of those jobs are in the areas of construction, manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance – where remote work will never be an option. They need and deserve this project and the improved quality of life it will bring – and with empathy and courage, the Valley Link Board of Directors is determined to give it to them.
We now have a unique opportunity to make Valley Link a reality with funds from the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. To be eligible for these highly competitive funds, a combined NEPA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for an Initial Operating Segment (IOS) will soon be launched. This proposed IOS will extend the Valley Link project from Dublin/Pleasanton BART station to Mountain House station and include the planned Operational Maintenance Facility (OMF) at Tracy. Additionally, EIS/SEIR will evaluate a new design element to reduce travel time through Altamont Pass as well as an alternate site at Mountain House Station with a track extension to the OMF. Caltrans and SJCOG are currently evaluating a potential transitway in the median of I-205 as part of its I-205 Managed Lanes Project, however, consideration of an alignment beyond a Mountain House IOS is outside the scope of this current EIA. A future EIA, however, may need to include this potential I-205 transitway as a feasible alternative, but no work is progressing on this segment at this time.

The hallmark of the Valley Link project – indeed a mandate of the agency’s enabling legislation – is to listen to the communities it will one day serve. To this end, no decision has been made or will ever be made without providing Project stakeholders and the public with every possible opportunity to provide feedback that will be meaningfully received. The project’s public involvement plan outlines this commitment and is posted on Valley Link’s website. The website also serves as an accurate and up-to-date source of factual information about the project.

We urge everyone to join us as we work to relieve congestion for thousands of commuters in the Altamont Pass/I-580 corridor and improve the quality of life in our communities.
For more information, visit: https://www/valleylinkrail.com

about the authors

Veronica Vargas is currently the President of the Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority, a position she has held since January 2021. She is also currently Pro Tem Mayor of the City of Tracy and has served on the Tracy City Council since 2014. .

Paul Akinjo is a member of the board of directors of the Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority, a position he has held since 2018. He has also been a member of the council of the town of Lathrop since 2014.

Bernice King-Tingle is a board member of the Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority. King-Tingle is director of the Mountain House Community Services Board, a position she has held since 2008.


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