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Oakland Airport Connector plan moves forward

on September 8, 2010

Plans for an Oakland Airport BART tram took a big step towards reality Wednesday afternoon.  The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the board in charge of channeling state transportation money to the Bay Area, voted 6-2 to allocate $20 million in state transportation improvement funds to the project.

According to BART Chief Spokesperson Linton Johnson, the vote represents the last piece of the project’s funding puzzle, which together with state and federal money would total $484 million.  “For the first time in the 25-year history of this project, we may be seeing shovels hit the ground in the next month or two,” said Johnson.

The proposed Oakland Airport Connector would replace the existing AirBart shuttle bus system, which takes travelers on city streets between the airport and the Oakland Coliseum BART station. The plan to build an elevated tram was almost derailed in February after failing to qualify for $70 million in federal stimulus money.

The new funding, however, is not universally applauded.  TransForm, a Bay Area transit advocacy group, released a report in August calling BART’s proposal a “boondoggle,” arguing instead for improved ground transportation.  “It’s disappointing that our regional decision-makers chose to spend $20 million on this project,” said TransForm Program Director John Knox White, “when more cost-effective options are available.”

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