HERCULES -- The city declined this week to support a study of a BART extension north, after a majority of City Council members raised concern that it could sap energy and funding from Hercules' long-planned Intermodal Transit Center on the waterfront.
BART board member Zakhary Mallett has been seeking the support of West Contra Costa cities for a study of a BART extension north from either El Cerrito Del Norte or downtown Richmond. But a draft resolution before the Hercules City Council to support a study never came to a vote because of a technicality in the wording that required postponing a vote to the next meeting.
After almost an hour of sometimes contentious council debate and grilling of Mallett, Mayor John Delgado determined there was insufficient consensus to bring the issue back to the council in the near future given the various objections of a majority: himself, Sherry McCoy and Dan Romero.
Bill Kelly and Myrna de Vera advocated for a BART study.
"The time to start is now," de Vera said, urging her colleagues to look at the big picture and focus on the forest, not just the trees.
Delgado, after initially expressing interest in a study, said he would not support it because the cost, estimated between $400,000 and $600,000, would be borne not by BART but by the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee.
"One of my platforms was the ITC, and one of the primary grant-givers of that is WCCTAC," said Delgado, who was elected to the council in November 2010. "I don't want to see the ITC competing with your study."
The council discussion revealed a perception of threats from BART beyond competition for money for a study.
"We have dedicated our vision, our future and our density to the ITC area and to the waterfront," McCoy said, "and the ITC will help relieve, and as a much nearer-term prospect ... traffic on (Interstate) 80."
The Intermodal Transit Center would encompass an Amtrak Capitol Corridor train station, a WestCAT bus transfer area and a ferry terminal connecting to San Francisco. In May 2012, the San Francisco Bay Water Emergency Transportation Authority projected ridership for a Hercules-San Francisco ferry at 416 to 565 one-way trips a day.
A Hercules-San Francisco commuter connection already exists in the WestCAT "Lynx" bus, which as of May 2012 logged about 800 daily one-way trips on weekdays, according to WestCAT officials.
As of May 2012, the cost estimate to complete the center's train and bus component was $76.1 million, to come mostly from federal, state and regional funds; that amount does not include $13.5 million the city spent on the project in previous years. It also does not include the costs of a ferry terminal, which would happen at some undetermined time in the future.
Romero warned that construction of BART would cause "horrendous" disruption to I-80. He also said he had hoped Mallett would express support for the ITC. Mallett responded: "I'm a BART director. ITC is your local project."
Mallett added that BART would take "thousands" of cars off the road, while a transit center, with a ferry, would take off hundreds at most.
Earlier, Romero chastised Mallett for not getting the support of the BART board, WCCTAC and other funding agencies before seeking the support of cities. Kelly disagreed, saying Mallett was going about it the right way.
De Vera suggested, to no avail, to amend the resolution to reflect the primacy of the intermodal transit center to allay some of her colleagues' concerns.