At this morning’s Board of Directors Workshop, the consensus of the Board was to direct staff to proceed with the revised project option for the El Camino Real BRT Project as well as:
- Include the optimal project in the environmental analysis
- Have VTA staff check in with MTC to encourage regional support of the project
- Return to the six cities to share analysis throughout the environmental study process
- Return to the VTA Board with status reports and the results of the analysis
The next steps will be to have the Board take actions at Board meetings later this year to authorize VTA to enter into the federal funding process, initiate the Caltrans design review process and begin environmental analysis.
Transit Planning Manager, Kevin Connolly, gave a presentation covering the policy context of the BRT Program, all three BRT projects as well as four project options for El Camino Real. You can download the presentation here:
Nearly all Board members spoke about the project options. We’ve recapped some notable points below:
Board member Margaret Abe-Koga, of Mountain View, who introduced the idea of studying the optimal project, said that there were many questions about the project that the Mountain View Council felt were not sufficiently addressed—due to the lack of a complete environmental analysis—to give them confidence to support dedicated lanes. Her hope is that an environmental analysis of both street configurations in Mountain View would help the council make a more informed decision about which street configuration is best for the city. Other Board members echoed the idea of studying both street configurations—understanding that it would lead to a higher project cost, but one that would be worthwhile in the larger sense of the project.
Board member Jamie Matthews, of Santa Clara, encouraged VTA to avoid “paralysis by analysis” and move ahead with the revised project, predicting that dedicated lanes in Santa Clara will be the envy of other cities and would provide the tangible example that would encourage other cities to pursue dedicated lanes.
Board members Sam Liccardo and Rose Herrera, both of San Jose, drew attention to the operating cost savings of the revised and optimal projects. Board member Liccardo noted that there was a nearly $5 million difference in annual operating cost between the revised project and the optimal project and lamented that Sunnyvale and Mountain View had not supported the project. This tied into another theme of Board member Liccardo’s comments of a vision of the future and making land use decisions that go hand in hand with transportation investments.
Finally, the BRT Project Team would like to thank all the members of the public who spoke at the Board Workshop as well as groups like Transform, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Greenbelt Alliance, Working Partnerships USA, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center and all the other citizens who have attended and spoken at the three dozen public meetings VTA has had on this project over the past two years. Several Board members cited the input they’ve received from advocacy groups as a factor in their decision.