SamTrans announced June 6 that its board of directors will be working with Facebook and Plenary Group, an infrastructure developer, to look into how to advance projects on the Dumbarton Transportation Corridor – a project that could reopen the Dumbarton rail bridge for passenger service.
In 2016, Facebook funded a study by SamTrans on ways to ease congestion along the Dumbarton corridor, the findings of which the agency's directors approved last December.
John Tenanes, Facebook vice president of global facilities and real estate, said in a written statement, "This is one of many projects we are looking at to ease congestion in the Bay Area. … Being able to get around easily is important for people's quality of life and the local economy.”
SamTrans has been in talks with Facebook since January about this partnership.
According to Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison, the goal of the partnership is to look into the feasiblity of using the Dumbarton rail bridge to connect the East Bay to Silicon Valley.
"We're a big employer in the area," he said. "These problems are super-complicated, and we recognize we have a role in helping to solve the traffic and congestion probelms for the region."
The process is expected to take about 18 months, he said. The company's specific role in the partnership will become further defined in the months to come, he said.
In late November 2017, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Facebook had leased about 190,000 square feet of office space in Fremont, or enough space for about 950 workers.
In a written statement, Charles Stone, board chair of the San Mateo County Transit District, said, "As the local economy continues to boom, the unfortunate side effect is that traffic congestion has become one of the top issues facing our residents."
The study the agency approved recommended rebuilding the abandoned Dumbarton rail bridge to connect to existing commuting rail services on both sides of the Bay, boosting bus and ride-share options for commuters, and factoring in infrastructure and safety considerations for bicyclists and pedestrians. The study also determined it could be feasible to:
● By 2020, increase the frequency and number of destinations of transbay buses.
● By 2025, convert a traffic lane on the road bridge to either an express lane or a shifting lane that matches commute direction.
● By 2030, rebuild the abandoned rail bridge and activate a rail shuttle across the Bay to connect Redwood City to Union City.
It estimated the costs for those projects to be more than $1.8 billion by 2025, plus an additional $295 million to expand the rail service from Newark to Union City in the East Bay.