A crowd of Newark and corridor residents gathered on Saturday February 23 for the first community meeting on in a process to study, plan and environmentally review a project to revive transit on the rail corridor.
The meeting was hosted by Facebook, Plenary Group and SamTrans, the public sector owner of the corridor.
Community members asked many questions about transit and active transportation on the corridor. Regarding rail connections beyond Newark to Fremont and Union City, BART and ACE/Capitol Corridor, Winsome Bowen of Facebook said that the project would need to work with the Union Pacific freight railroad to gain rights to use the rails beyond the SamTrans right of way in Newark. A few speakers supported the potential for bus and carpool improvements before a rail project could be built, Carter Mau of SamTrans mentioned an ongoing Metropolitan Transportation Commission study, Dumbarton Forward, to explore these options.
Local residents were concerned about noise from construction, and about the potential to reduce the noise of train horns with quiet zones, which have been recently implemented in Atherton.
Residents of Newark were concerned about the risk of gentrification and displacement of lower-income residents; a resident of North Fair Oaks was concerned that the community would be affected by train traffic without the benefit of service. Outreach staff said that an upcoming meeting in North Fair Oaks was in the works.
Dale Bonner of the Plenary Group, Facebook’s partner specializing in public-private infrastructure partnerships, said that the private partners are putting in $5 to $10 million for this phase, split 50:50. SamTrans’s agreement with “Crossbay Transit Partners” is for a period of 18 months starting last summer, with options of up to three 6-month extensions.