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Oakland Airport Connector project advocates vow to work with FTA

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BART has received the Federal Transit Administration's letter asking for further analysis of the Oakland Airport Connector project's impact on minority communities under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Over the past decade, BART has diligently worked with the FTA to meet all its requirements and as a result, the FTA has consistently signed off on every aspect of the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC). In fact, as recently as December, the FTA informed BART it had approved the project for what's called "pre-award authority" to continue advancing the project. It also invited BART to complete the steps to secure award of $25 million in federal New Starts funding and award of $70 million in Stimulus funds. At the time, there was no mention that additional documentation was needed.

Based on the FTA’s consistent
support, the BART Board voted to authorize the award of contracts. However, the
FTA’s 11th-hour requirement for further Title VI analysis places
additional hurdles prior the award of Stimulus funds. BART has provided the FTA
with overwhelming documentation that clearly shows BART has always been and
will continue to be committed to providing non-discriminatory, equitable,
accessible and safe public transportation to all Bay Area residents, the agency
states. In fact, BART has held 25 public outreach meetings, many of which
focused exclusively on the minority communities. BART is confident that it is
on solid legal footing. That said, BART is also firmly committed to working
with the FTA once the agency provides an exact course of action. BART is
certain it resolve the newly-raised issues to the agency’s satisfaction, just
as we’ve consistently done in the past.

BART points out that the
OAC project does exactly what Congress asked of Stimulus funded projects and
that is it will create between 2,500 and 5,200 jobs for the area, which are of
vital importance to the region’s economic recovery. These include jobs in the
construction, electrical, steel fabrication and other building trades that are
experiencing unemployment rates in excess of 30 percent. It will also leave a
legacy transit connection that will carry thousands of additional daily riders
to the Oakland regional airport, on time, without pollution and traffic
congestion. Finally, the project will significantly enhances the airport’s
national prestige as one of the few in the country with a coveted world-class,
transit connection, which will allow the airport to attract the businesses that
will drive the East Bay’s future economic growth.

That is why the OAC project
has the strong support of the local business organizations, trade unions and
community and citizen groups for the Bay Area. Furthermore, the MTC, the BART
Board of Directors, the Oakland City Council and the Port of Oakland Board of
Commissioners have consistently voted in support of the project. All are
comprised of or appointed by local elected officials who seek out and represent
the interests of the residents and diverse communities of the region. BART looks
forward to the FTA quickly clarifying exactly what information it needs so it
can promptly take the additional action required to ensure this project
delivers on the commitment the President, Congress and the Bay Area
Congressional delegation have made to quickly put people back to work and
return the region to economic prosperity.

In another story, starting
at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 24, 2010, BART crews will be working to replace
a transformer at San Bruno Station. During the work, the east plaza entrance to
the station will be closed. In addition, the drop-off/pick-up area adjacent to
Huntington Avenue will be blocked for the day.

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