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January 21, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Transportation wish list topic of workshop Transportation wish list topic of workshop (January 21, 2004)

By Marion Softky
Almanac Staff Writer

What transportation projects promise the most relief to traffic congestion in San Mateo County at a price the public will support? Caltrain, buses, overpasses, grade separations, freeway lanes, local street improvements, bridges, more BART, ferries, bicycles?

At a workshop Saturday, January 24, the public can weigh in on the projects it would like to see included in a Measure A sales tax ballot measure in November. The workshop runs from 10 a.m. to noon at SamTrans headquarters, 1250 San Carlos Ave. in San Carlos.

This the third workshop sponsored by the San Mateo County Transportation Authority to gather public input for the ballot measure. The agency allocates the revenues -- some $55 million a year -- raised by the current half-cent sales tax.

By the time the current tax authorized by Measure A in 1988 expires in 2008, it will have spent more than $1 billion for San Mateo County transportation projects.

Funds from Measure A purchased the Caltrain right-of-way, and supported major improvements to Caltrain's Peninsula service. The funds also purchased the rail corridor across the old Dumbarton railroad bridge, which could some day carry trains between the East Bay and the Peninsula.

A list of possible projects compiled by the Transportation Authority from wish lists provided by cities and the county far exceeds what can be funded by the future tax. For example, there are requests for 28 grade crossings at Caltrain tracks, including four in Menlo Park and two in Atherton.

Potential big-ticket items include Caltrain electrification, various BART projects, and new ferry service to South San Francisco and Redwood City.

Art Lloyd, who sits on the three-county Joint Powers Board that runs Caltrain, noted the proposed $4 billion ferry system might make sense for transportation to the East Bay, but not for the Peninsula. "If I'm going to San Francisco, I'm going by Caltrain," he said. "It's faster and probably cheaper."

Former Menlo Park Mayor Steve Schmidt opposes including a feasibility study of extending BART down the Peninsula in the Measure A list. BART is expensive and redundant, he said, and federal and state funding to get it to San Jose is drying up. "Maybe it's time to pull the plug on public money for Bart extensions in San Mateo County," he said.

INFORMATION

Several meetings over the next three weeks will give the public an opportunity to learn about and comment on a variety of public transit issues in San Mateo County.

** On Saturday, January 24, from 10 a.m. to noon, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority will hold a pubic workshop to discuss projects to include in the next Measure A ballot measure in November. The workshop will be held at SamTrans headquarters, 1250 San Carlos Ave. in San Carlos.
** On Wednesday, January 28, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the San Carlos headquarters, Caltrain will hold a workshop to get public comment on its draft strategic plan.
** On Thursday, February 5, at 10 a.m. at its San Carlos headquarters, the Caltrain board of directors will take public comment on proposed changes in train schedules to take effect when Baby Bullet express trains begin running; the service is expected to start this spring.
** On Friday, February 6, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., ferry service to South San Francisco and Redwood City will be the subject of an information meeting at Oracle Conference Center, 500 Oracle Parkway in Redwood City.

For more information, call Caltrain and the Transportation Authority at 508-6200; or go to www.caltrain.com, www.smcta.com or www.watertransit.org.


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