No federal money for BART-Oakland airport connector

Feds say project might not give low-income communities their 'fair share' of benefits

The Federal Transit Administration on Friday denied BART $70 million in federal stimulus money to fund its proposed elevated rail connector between the Coliseum station and Oakland International Airport.

The FTA's decision comes after three advocate groups filed a complaint alleging that BART failed to evaluate whether the project would provide low-income and minority communities with a fair share of the project's benefits.

The FTA found there were significant equity concerns with the project, which is estimated to cost riders up to $6 each way, and agreed with advocates that the plan violated Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. BART then went to work on a civil rights action plan to address the concerns.

However, the FTA rejected BART's action plan in Friday's letter, saying there was no way BART could comply with civil rights laws by the deadline of Sept. 30.

FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff wrote in the letter that the agency was concerned that moving forward with the project would tie it up in litigation for too long.

All federal funds that are not distributed by Sept. 30 must be returned to the Treasury, so the $70 million will be diverted to other Bay Area projects in order to keep the money in the region.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which coordinates transportation for the nine-county Bay Area, is expected to re-direct the stimulus funds to rehabilitation and preventive maintenance projects for various transit agencies.

Wynn Hausser, spokesman for Public Advocates, the San Francisco-based nonprofit law firm and advocacy group representing the groups that opposed the connector, said Friday night, "We're really pleased with this outcome. We really applaud FTA for taking this seriously and sending a clear message that you can't cut corners on civil rights."

However, Oakland and BART officials expressed frustration Friday with the FTA's decision to deny funding for the connector project.

"BART's commitment to Title VI and Civil Rights is strong and abiding and we are fully committed to completing and correcting any deficiencies in our program," said BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger in a statement. "The action plan we submitted to FTA makes that clear."

Bay City News contributed to this report.


Like this comment
Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Feb 16, 2010 at 7:07 am

Lawsuits like these are one reason why transportation costs so much.

I wonder if this lawsuit is what people had in mind when they passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964?

On the other hand, I’m glad the project was stopped, as I always thought the elevated rail connector was a huge waste of money. I’ve taken the Air Bart bus to & from Bart and the Oakland airport many times. Busses work fine.

So this time, I’m joining in with the downtown crew. What up, my peeps!

Like this comment
Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Feb 16, 2010 at 8:10 am

Using the logic of the Federal Transit Administration, we should also stop construction of the 4th bore of the Caldecot Tunnel. After all, it will only benefit the rich, white people who live in Contra Costa. But why stop there? Any BART extensions in the Livermore Valley should be permanently shelved for the same reason.

And if that makes sense, then school construction in predominantly white or Asian or Indian neighborhoods should also be brought to a halt since it's obvious that such efforts are racist.

Dear America, Obama and his libs have taken political correctness to the ends of the earth. The end of America is not far behind.

Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

Rick, you are absolutely correct. But I would not go so far as to say "the end of America is not far behind. No small fry like Obama will ever destroy America. He and his brain dead group, plus the crazies who voted them in will be history very soon. Obama will go down as the president worse then Jimmy Carter, remember that fool. Obama is doing more harm then good to this Country and those dreamer followers that believe putting of person of color in the WHITE HOUSE was the best thing for the USA.

Like this comment
Posted by richierich
a resident of Danville
on Feb 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

is this the same bart management who cried they had no money to pay decent wages to loyal employees but they wanted $550 million+ to replace quick,decent working busses to the airport? how silly AND SHORT SIGHTED..i think using the public advocates using the minority card was perfect to stop BART from wasting mytax payers money AGAIN!!!

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