MTC Staff Still Committed to Oakland Airport Connector

Despite the rush of negative publicity around the FTA's letter to BART, which effectively put the agency on notice for failing its Title VI civil rights and equity obligations for the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger has faith in BART's ability to come up with a satisfactory action plan to meet FTA's demands, as noted by the recommendation he makes in a letter to his commissioners to endorse BART's OAC, albeit with provisions [PDF].

In the letter, Heminger says it is not "MTC's role to conduct or pre-judge the Title VI analyses that BART must undertake to satisfy the proposed FTA conditional award." But, he writes, "MTC must have some understanding of the scope of the issues involved so that we can assess the likelihood that BART can comply" with its obligation under the federal Civil Rights Act.

Heminger concludes that BART satisfactorily met the Title VI demands for construction related impacts in its environmental review from 2002 and he thinks BART will be able to meet the Title VI ridership analysis demands as stipulated by the FTA.

Thus, MTC commissioners are given two options by Heminger, the first to provisionally support the OAC and "accept the risk that the funds could be lost to the region if BART fails to remedy any Title VI deficiencies to FTA's satisfaction." If commissioners choose this option, Heminger recommends mandating that BART submit its "action plan" to the FTA by February 16, 2010. If FTA should find deficiencies in BART's action plan at that time, then Heminger recommends his commissioners program the money to transit operators for their operating budgets.

The second option would be to immediately redistribute the money to transit operators and MTC staff have prepared Resolution No. 3855 for the commission, should it decide on the immediate re-distribution of the federal funds.

Should make for a very interesting meeting in the morning, which Streetsblog will be covering with occasional updates via our Twitter account.