Working toward a shorter, more direct route between Oakland and San Jose
Oakland, CA – On Monday, June 29, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) officially launched the environmental review process for South Bay Connect with a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Online Public Scoping Meeting. CCJPA is the lead agency for this process required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
A collaboration between CCJPA and Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), as well as regional partner agencies, the South Bay Connect project proposes to relocate the Capitol Corridor passenger rail service from UPRR’s Niles Subdivision to the Coast Subdivision between Oakland Coliseum and Newark in Northern California. This proposed relocation is expected to facilitate improved separation of passenger and freight rail operations in southern Alameda County and create new transbay connections for travelers between the East Bay and destinations on the Peninsula.
South Bay Connect is a critical component to enhancing both passenger and freight rail operations and has been identified in several planning documents including the 2018 California State Rail Plan, Alameda County Transportation Commission Rail Strategy as well as CCJPA’s 2014 Vision Plan Update and 2016 Vision Implementation Plan. The proposed project aims to improve operations for both uses of rail in supporting the economic vitality of the Northern California Megaregion.
Improvements to the rail infrastructure may also be included in the project to accommodate the shift of rail services. “South Bay Connect is a vital rail improvement project that will not only provide Capitol Corridor riders with a more competitive option to automobile travel within this congested corridor, but also create a direct link between housing and jobs on both sides of the San Francisco Bay through a new intermodal station in Fremont,” explained Rebecca Saltzman, Chair of the CCJPA Board of Director. “We are excited to be at this phase of planning and look forward to ongoing engagement with regional stakeholders and the public.”
As an initial step within the CEQA process, Project Scoping allows CCJPA to seek input from the public on the draft Project Description, the proposed Project Alternative, and Environmental Scope of the Project. In light of challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, CCJPA has extended the traditional 30-day public scoping comment period to 45 days to allow more time for interested parties to review information and submit comments. CCJPA has also taken the step to provide the Public Scoping Meeting in an online format that will remain available for the entire comment period from June 29 through August 13, 2020.
Shirley Qian, CCJPA Senior Planner and the South Bay Connect Project Manager, commented that “Although we are facing unprecedented times with social distancing requirements, public engagement on important projects must continue and is an essential part of the project development process. The virtual engagement tool allows us to reach a much broader audience safely and conveniently by creating a mobile-friendly and accessible online meeting format that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
The online meeting, found at southbayconnect.com, offers key project information while also providing multiple ways for attendees to submit valuable input. To provide additional opportunity for direct engagement with the project team during the Public Scoping Comment Period, CCJPA is also offering two interactive events on July 15; first online at Noon where the public can ask questions through a live chat feature and again at 6 p.m. through a Telephone Townhall. All comments during this Public Scoping Comment Period for the South Bay Connect project must be submitted by August 13, 2020, no later than 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
About CCJPA and the Capitol Corridor
CCJPA is a partnership among six local transit agencies and manages the Capitol Corridor, an intercity rail service connecting the most economically vibrant urban centers in Northern California – from Sacramento to Silicon Valley, and including San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. Capitol Corridor trains provide a convenient, reliable, and comfortable alternative to the congested I-80, I-680, and I-880 freeways for over 1.5 million work and leisure travelers every year. For more information about CCJPA and the Capitol Corridor, visit capitolcorridor.org or connect through Facebook at facebook.com/CapitolCorridor and Twitter @CapitolCorridor.
Karen Bakar, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, (510) 874-7494, [email protected]