This weekend, we found out about a new risk to the approval of the $647M federal grant to fund Caltrain electrification, which is slated for final approval this month. Â The grant will need to be approved by incoming Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao – read on, and then click here to encourage her to approve the electrification funding without delay.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren reported that California’s Republican legislative contingent had sent a letter to incoming Transportation Secretary Chao encouraging her to reject the grant for Caltrain electrification, at aÂ presentation on Saturday to the Shasta/Hanchett Park neighborhood association annual meeting.
Caltrain and our region’s business leaders are making their voices heard on the ground in Washington, DC. Â It is also valuableÂ for the administration to hear from you – commuters, drivers, and transit supporters – that this project is essential for our area’s transportation system, to support the economy and address some of the worst traffic congestion in the US.
TheÂ misleading letter opposing the funding for electrification was in the context of ongoing opposition to the High Speed Rail project. The opposition falsely claims that the application was made by the High Speed Rail Authority – in fact it was made by Caltrain – and that the tracks belong to High Speed Rail – in fact they belong to Caltrain, and will be shared with HSR when service arrives in the future.
The opposition ignores the fact that Caltrain electrification will provide major benefits to our area independently and for years before High Speed Rail is operating on the Peninsula. Â Also, if this approval is delayed beyond the beginning of March, Caltrain will need to revisit its contracts for electrification construction and train equipment, which could lead to a higher cost for the project.
A follow-up letter from our Bay Area contingent states the facts: Caltrain’s application was completed and the project was favorably recommended by staff. Â It is in a 30-day review, started on Jan 18 where it sits before congress for 30 days (Congress does not need to take any action). Then the Secretary needs to sign it. Only one project has ever not been signed, and that had received a low ranking.
You can send a customized email to Secretary Chao by clicking on this link.
And please refresh this post for more up-to-date instructions on how to most effectively urge the DOT to approve the electrification funding.
Phone lines in DC have been lit up in recent weeks with constituents demanding responsible government and having an impact. This is another important opportunity.
I called this morning and the woman refused to take a message; she said I should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks! Refusing to take a message is… suboptimal for a leader of a government agency. I’ll keep looking for a better number, and in the mean time, it can’t hurt to have their administrative staff get calls from additional citizens. For people reading this – please be polite to the admins answering the phones, because the admins didn’t ask to have bosses who are not doing their job in listening to constituents.
To clarify–I did get past the person on the switchboard; the person I talked to identified herself as “Secretary Chao’s office”.
She said that and also said that she was unwilling to take a message??!!
[…] A few persistent volunteers have called for Transportation Secretary Chao at the US Department of Transportation atÂ 202-366-4000 to urge the Secretary to approve Caltrain electrification funding without delay. Some have gotten through toÂ Secretary Chao’s office, only to be told by the admin that she does not take messages from citizens for the Transportation Secretary. […]
[…] readers likely know, the project is under pressure because Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao deferred approving the high-ranked project to wait for the Trump Administration budget. [Editor’s note: […]