Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

President Biden’s infrastructure spending plan could benefit big Bay Area transit projects

By Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, March 31, 2021

“President Biden’s infrastructure spending plan, unveiled Wednesday, was light on details but appeared likely to provide substantial amounts of money for Bay Area and California transportation projects.

“The plan is expected to include money to get BART to San Jose and Santa Clara and increasing its capacity, extending the Bay Area’s express lane network and connecting high-speed rail to the region, according to Randy Rentschler, legislative director for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

“And a section of the plan calling for reconnecting communities divided by transportation projects in the past could help Oakland’s aspirational idea to bury Interstate 980 and turn it into a boulevard lined with housing, parks and room for transit, including a connection to a second transbay rail tube.

“California’s transit agencies, struggling to recover from the pandemic, stand to benefit from increased funding as well, [Michael Pimentel, executive director of the California Transit Association] said, receiving more than double the usual amount in federal funding. The proposal includes eight times as much funding for rail projects, and could benefit Caltrain’s modernization and electrification efforts.

“California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project is also likely to be a winner. Rentschler said more rail funding might be used for the so-called ‘Valley to Valley’ connection between the San Joaquin Valley and Silicon Valley, as well as needed improvements to bring high-speed trains up the Peninsula on Caltrain tracks into the Transbay transit center in San Francisco.

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