Oakland Airport Connector Approved

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					After long-time Chamber support, Oakland’s Airport Connector approved

by Scott Peterson

With support from the Chamber and other community groups, BART’s Board of Directors approved
a plan for a quick, reliable, traffic-free and environmentally-friendly transit connection between
BART’s Coliseum Station and Oakland International Airport. Construction of the approximately
$500 million Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project would use $70 million in federal stimulus
money. The entire project would create and/or support approximately 13,000 direct and indirect jobs
and generate $1.2 billion in economic activity, according to the American Public Transportation
Association’s formula.
    By a historic vote of seven to one, the Board approved the last of the resolutions vital to its role in
funding the project, which has been studied since the 1970s. The Board authorized BART staff to
apply for up to $150 million in low-interest federal loans to secure the final funding. BART expects
ridership revenues to cover the cost of the loan.
    “Finally, Oakland will have a world-class, environmentally-friendly transit connection from
Oakland Coliseum BART station to its airport – similar to the automated people mover at SFO,”
BART Board President Tom Blalock said. “Not only will this bring jobs in the short term, it will also
lure businesses and airlines to Oakland, and if funding becomes available there could be future
stations along the line to enhance the local economy.”
    “I’ve been working on this project for over 20 years,” said BART Board member Carole Ward
Allen, who represents the district in which the project will be built. “We have worked with the
community and all the special interest groups involved, and I am so happy that the BART Board has
voted on this. We can move forward on a project that will serve the city, the region and the nation.
The stimulus money will provide jobs and economic relief to citizens of Oakland. As we move
forward I’m personally going to push to spend as much of this and future funding as possible on
minority and women-owned businesses and to hire locally and buy American.”
    The OAC would prepare for future growth in the East Bay by creating a high-tech,
environmentally friendly 3.2-mile elevated automated people mover connection between the
Coliseum BART station and Oakland International Airport. The OAC would replace the current
AirBART bus connection, which is subjected to traffic gridlock.
    In supporting the project, the Chamber encouraged development of intermediate stations to serve
the employees and customers of the businesses along the Hegenberger corridor and Airport Business
    “BART is an integral and vital part of the Bay Area community,” BART Board Vice President
James Fang said. Fang, who is the Board’s longest-serving member, added, “Through the actions of
the meeting we are delighted to not only create eco-friendly transit solutions, which now connect two
of the Bay Area’s major airports, but bring critical construction revenue to the region.”
    In addition to the $150 million loan, the rest of the funding for design and construction of the
approximately $500 million project would come from local, state and federal sources. BART expects
revenue service to begin in 2013. Construction could begin as early as 2010.

Scott Peterson is the Chamber’s director of public policy.