Bay Area 2040: Envisioning the Future of the Bay Area
Who says you can’t have everything?
Well, when it comes to transportation infrastructure and planning, economics and tax payers do, for starters. But Thursday evening’s Plan Bay Area 2040 open house wasn’t about holding back. Instead, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) asked the public to chime in and help envision a transportation and planning future for the entire Bay Area. The open house is part of an ongoing effort to create a catch-all road map for agencies throughout the region.
Held at the Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter Auditorium across from the Lake Merritt BART station, the open house consisted of half a dozen information stations, with representatives from a gaggle of area transportation planning agencies, including AC Transit, BART, Caltrans, Caltrain, MTC, and SFMTA, not to mention consultants, who heard public comments and discussed priorities for the Bay Area.
Among them was Liz Brisson, Project Manager, Urban Planning Initiatives Sustainable Street Division for the SFMTA. She was answering questions at the “Core Capacity Transit Study” station, a study project she’s working on. “Transit is bursting at the seams,” she said, adding that means it’s essentially working. But it has to work better to accommodate growth. “We know what we have to do.”
And that means adding capacity and building a more resilient system, which includes studying under-grounding the M-Ocean View, she said. Of course, without the $3-billion-plus that will take, SFMTA is moving slowly forward with more immediate plans, such as giving trains priority at signal lights and shortening the left-turn pocket at the Stonestown Mall, so the train spends less time waiting behind left-turning cars.
Meanwhile, over at the Caltrans booth, Frederick Schermer, a planner who is originally from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, answered questions about projects that Caltrans is involved in, such as helping fund Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor train service from the Bay Area to Sacramento. He also discussed a study to look at mass transit service across the Dumbarton Bridge to better connect East Bay communities with the job centers of Silicon Valley. Streetsblog brought up the possibility of bringing back overnight rail service between the Bay Area and Southern California. Schermer seemed to support the idea, at least unofficially.
The open house took public comments on what the priorities should be electronically and via Post-it notes.
All in all, the meeting was planning potpourri, but the overarching goal is certainly one Streetsblog readers can identify with: CA’s draft transportation plan says we need to drive less and stop expanding highways. Or, from the Plan Bay Area website:
Plan Bay Area marks the nine-county region’s first long-range plan to meet the requirements of California’s landmark 2008 Senate Bill 375, which calls on each of the state’s 18 metropolitan areas to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy to accommodate future population growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. Working in collaboration with cities and counties, the Plan advances initiatives to expand housing and transportation choices, create healthier communities, and build a stronger regional economy.
Meanwhile, there are five more open houses planned, in Napa, San Francisco, Solano, and Sonoma, and the next one, in Marin, Saturday/tomorrow, will be held from 8:30-1 p.m. at the Corte Madera Community Center, 498 Tamalpais Drive, Corte Madera. To find out when the open house near you will take place, or to comment online, visit the website.