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BART Airport Connector: Just Build The Damn Thing!

 

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Coliseum BART Station rendering with connector


When BART was opened in 1972 one of the first station stops was at the "Coliseum", a station called Coliseum BART for the well-known sports complex. Almost from the day the station opened many asked why the BART line didn't have a spur to serve Oakland International Airport. These questions continued through the 70s, 80s, and then in the 90s a group of Oakland business leaders strongly pushed for "an airport connector" of some design. It was listed as an objective by the 500 Oaklanders who attended "Oakland Sharing The Vision" or as a few friends liked to call it, "sharing the ham sandwich."

Then when BART approved the San Francisco International Airport extention, a number of people in Oakland (including myself) just hit the ceiling. Why them and not us?

At any rate, there was always a constituency for the project and it was never considered wasteful at all. Moreover, the cost, first at $34 million, increased to $75 million in the early 90s and it seemed perhaps that alone would put it out of reach. Still, the advocates and planners pushed on.

Now, we have a plan and the first real possible end game for this project that's been a dream in the eye of Oakland boosters for three decades. The BART board finally approved $500 million for this much needed transportation system, only now at the 11th hour a few want to stop it.

Bad move; too late.

Yes, $500 million is a lot of money, but I totally disagree with the idea that $500 million is better used by giving it to existing transit agencies because the overall infrastructure of service would not be improved.

BART Connector at Oakland Airport

The BART Connector is a game-changer, giving Oakland Airport a competitive advantage over San Jose Airport, and making it the clear competitor with San Francisco International at a time when too many airlines have either stopped or curtailed service to Oakland. An airport connector would change that by increasing demand for service out of Oakland and create jobs at a time when they're sorely needed. The projected date of completion is 2013, just over three years from now. That means employment opportunities from the construction project will be active at the time they're most needed.

I know there are some opponents, many whom I respect, but they weren't here at all when this project was just a dream. Now that they live in Oakland they want to stop what we've worked for years to build.  In general, they have a low-ambition ethic that doesn't bode well for Oakland's future if they have their say.   If they have their way, Oakland will be forever a third-class city, always wishing for something rather than building it.

No.

Let's build the damn thing and get on with it.
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