VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Project consists of a 16-mile extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system from Warm Springs Station in the south of Fremont in Alameda County into Santa Clara County through the cities of Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara. Warm Springs Station opened in 2017. VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Program is being implemented in two phases: Phase I and Phase II. Phase I is a 10-mile extension currently under construction and scheduled to be open in late 2018. The remaining about 6-mile extension of VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Program, called Phase II, is the subject of this combined Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIS/SEIR), which includes both a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis. VTA has a long-standing partnership with the cities of Alameda County and Santa Clara County. This involves coordination with staff within the fields of Planning, Engineering and Public Works. This partnership will continue throughout the environmental process, engineering and construction. VTA has established Community Working Groups (CWGs) for Phase II stations; Alum Rock/28th Street, Downtown, Diridon and Santa Clara for better communication of members of the community and for information regarding the project planning and delivery processes. The purpose of this paper mainly focuses on describing the environmental impacts, stakeholders, property rights and process towards approving the project. There are few setbacks in the BART extension project which could be eliminated by implementing proper Lean strategy and by following National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics.
VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Project
Bay Ara Rapid Transit (BART) is a transportation system serving the residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, in California. It is the fifth heavy rail rapid transit system in the United States. Valley Transportation Authorities (VTA) BART Silicon Valley Extension to San Jose is a part of the 16-mile, a six-station extension of the BART system that is being managed and funded by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authorities in cooperation with BART. The project extends from Warm Springs/South Fremont in Alameda County to Santa Clara County through cities of Milpitas, San Jose and Santa Clara in Santa Clara County. The extension project is being constructed in two phases: Phase I (Berryessa Extension), which extends 10-miles from Warm Spring in South Fremont to Milpitas and Berryessa in North San Jose and Phase II project is a six-mile, four-station extension where the BART will operate from Berryessa/North San Jose. The Project includes five-mile tunnel, two middle tunnels for ventilation facilities, a maintenance facility and a storage yard, three underground stations which are Alum Rock/28th Street, Downtown San Jose and Diridon and one at Santa Clara grade station. The tunnel will be in a single-bore structure.
VTA places a high priority to the environmental compliance. Following the approved Board resolutions verifying environmental reports related to BART Silicon Valley Project, the Project involves design requirements, best management practices, and mitigation measures to minimize impacts on the nature. The Authorities are committed to the conservation of natural resources, the reduction in greenhouse gases, prevention of pollution and use of renewable energy and materials through its Sustainability Program. The Project also includes a Sustainability Plan and subsequent reports to monitor and inform on implementation of the Project’s compliance with sustainability measures. To select a tunneling method, VTA has done the analysis on single-bore and twin-bore tunneling methods. Throughout the process of deciding on a tunneling method, VTA has a commitment to designing a safe model for the Project. After all the discussions between the VTA and BART officials, VTA staff and management decided to go with the single-bore tunneling method with some adjustments to address BART’s operational safety.
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The single-bore tunneling methods consists of one single tunnel of 45-foot in diameter with tracks for both directions of travel. Tracks would be separated by a concrete slab or wall. Different crossovers and passageways with ventilation shafts and other station facilities would be constructed for passengers boarding platforms for the three underground stations. Based on the studies, 47-diameter tunnel boring machine, which creates a tunnel structure and excavates the materials is used during the construction. Most of the construction would take place off-street with minimal impact on the traffic, pedestrians, VTA light rails and bus infrastructure and routes. However, the ventilation shaft construction needs to be partially done on the streets of Alum Rock, Downtown San Jose and Diridon stations and structures would progress with cut-and-cover activities, that would affect the businesses, residents and entities within the vicinity. For emergency purposes, the tunnel is made of fire-rated doors between trackways. The design studies of the method have a total of 76 cross-passages. The method requires a lower level of mitigation measures to protect historic resources during the construction.
Construction activities would increase the pollutants in the area because it involves transportation of materials to and from the area under construction. BART extension is a long-term activity which includes regular maintenance, monitoring regarding the irrigation, resulting in certain emissions during the construction. According to the current analysis, the project does not exceed Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). However, the BAAQMD recommends implementing the basic mitigation measures during the construction whether or not the emissions exceed the thresholds of significance. For these purposes, basic measures are taken care which include watering all the exposed surfaces (i.e. parking areas, graded areas, access roads which are unpaved. To transport the required materials for the project, the trucks must be covered to minimize the accumulation of dust during construction. All the dirt and dust on the roadways shall be removed using wet power vacuum street sweepers after completing the days work. Construction equipments should be properly maintained and should be used according to the manufacturer specifications. Equipments should be checked by a certified employee and must be in proper running conditions prior to the construction. The construction equipments should be equipped with diesel particulate to achieve 75 percent minimization of particle matter emissions. Equipments such as trucks include worker trips and material trips use both diesel and gasoline fuels, which are carbon-fossil fuels. The project requires huge amount of energy for irrigation activities which result in emission of greenhouses gases that are below the limits recommended by BAAQMD. The impact is minor, but by using alternative fuels like biodiesel and electrically operated construction vehicles would minimize the impact.
Noise and Vibration
It is not possible to conduct testing or operate services on the Berryessa extension without trains and supporting equipment creating noise and vibrations. Knowing this, VTA undertook surveys and studies along the alignment to find potential impacts during the project approval process. VTA then included into the project design a series of measures to lessen the impacts to the surrounding areas.
Sound walls – new sound walls were constructed as part of the sound mitigation efforts for the project, including portions of elevated track near Berryessa Road. The height of the sound wall varies based on location and need. In addition, already existing sound walls were either preserved or rebuilt to accommodate utility relocation work or other construction activities.
Tire Derived Aggregate (TDA) – With this technique, trucks and other vehicle tires used during construction are shredded and layered underneath tracks to reduce vibration.
Floating Slab – In certain locations, the tracks are affixed to a concrete pad that sits on top of thick rubber bearing pads, which help absorb vibration generated by the train. VTA installed floating slab at locations where TDA would not provide sufficient vibration mitigation to meet the federal threshold.
Systems Equipment – Emergency power generators and other electrical equipment were enclosed in buildings to ensure that there will be no adverse noise effect associated with operations and periodic routine testing.
Interior Noise Insulation Treatments – Project noise studies indicated construction of sound walls would not mitigate noise impacts to the second level of some multi-story homes. The multi-story homes received second-story noise mitigation measures that included acoustical windows, solid core doors and weather stripping.
Transit access is linked with a wide range of direct and indirect economic benefits, including minimized transportation costs, enhanced connections to jobs and reducing maintenance costs for road infrastructure. These benefits are reflected in higher property values near stations, and result in higher property tax for governments. According to the studies, transit has a positive impact on property values when the transit system significantly develops residents’ access to employment centers and other destinations. Property values increase when governments implement zoning and land use regulations to help transit-oriented development (TOD). The BART system has many characteristics that have been shown to support higher property values near transit stations include fast, frequent, regional service provides accessibility advantages for riders, and plays a crucial role in connecting the Bay Area as both population and traffic congestion continues to grow. BART serves some of the region’s most important companies and has helped strengthen the regional competitiveness of those companies over time. Also, BART also provides access to essential education and entertainment destinations. The system also serves many walkable, amenity-rich neighborhoods, as years passed BART and local governments have improved the pedestrians, bicycle, transit and auto connections to stations. The system helped to frame local real estate markets by attracting significant new transit-oriented development to station areas such as Pleasant Hill, Richmond, Fruitvale, Hayward, Colma, Pleasanton, and Castro Valley. These projects have been planned to capitalize on the benefits associated with BART access. Estates near the BART stations in San Francisco’s Financial Districts and civic center account for half of the total estimated value of all BART-served properties, and nearly a third of the benefit of all properties in San Francisco. The estimated value of properties near BART is increasing rapidly than the region. Between 2000 and 2010, total recorded values in the BART station areas increased by 54 percent after modifying the inflation, compared to 47 percent increase in the four-county region. The property owners who value the accessibility and other benefits provided by transit will be willing to pay a premium to set up their businesses in transit-served areas where it is helpful. Therefore, premium is capitalized into higher property values near transit stations and is termed as “land value premium” because the advantage of transit is primarily a function of the location of the land. These values can result in higher density developments near transit stations and compensate for higher land costs invested by the property owners. Many of the economic benefits of transit transform into financial benefits for local governments. Studies proves that using the land efficiently can result in savings on the cost of infrastructure and services.
Evidence of transit’s effect on property values
Many documents have that rail transit investments have a positive effect on the property values and new improvements after controlling other factors such as regional differences in property values, property attributes, and other neighborhood features. Different studies have found highly variant property value premiums, ranging from few percentage values to 100 percent. A few other studies have found negative property value impacts, including that in some cases the negative external effects of transit related to noise, crime or other affects, outweigh the accessibility advantage. The impact of transit stations on property values depend on various factors such as, accessibility benefits, type of transit and level of service, property type, local land use context and connectivity, supportive land use policy, neighborhood demographics and time period.
Cyber-security threats and hacking are the major issues in today’s world. According to News channel (KPIX) used communications and computer equipments were installed by the contractors on the South Bay BART extension which could have left the transit system open to hackers and other virtual systems. One of the Board members of VTA say that they have concern regarding the security, if someone has already used a router might have access to it and could possibly shut down the systems. VTA discovered that 1100 used digital routers and switches had been installed in the transit line communication, computer and security systems. VTA claims that three companies, Illinois-based Aldridge Construction, San Jose’s Rosendin Electric and HSQ technology were responsible for purchasing and installing the used parts. This is highly risky and extremely dangerous if the routers are controlled by different users. Cyber-security evolves on an hourly basis and not on daily basis. Therefore, VTA wanted a brand-new system. Hence, proper monitoring of the installed parts which will take care of the public safety as well as cyber threats.
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According to the original agreement, commuters were supposed to get 60 new cars by the end of 2017, but that did not happen. Initially, BART’s Fleet of the Future train cars have been displayed as a tour model to the public. Those cars were designed in such a way that access for disabled passengers is meaningless. After few years, the cars were delivered and one among them overshot a test track and plowed into a dirt berm in Hayward, forcing the workers to dig it out. Again, after few months, they decided to deliver cars only when there are no engineering flaws leading to possible problems. Month by month whenever new cars were delivered, there were breaking issues along with over heating problems. An event was held for the media employees where the test train arrived late and unexpectedly halted during the journey. Later, the cars have passed the safety test but failed the examination by state public utilities officials onboard when the computer system fails to identify the length of the train and some doors actually failed to open, leading the officials to mandate more stringent testing. After all the modifications and flawless cars, BART finally receives approval from the State’s public utilities authorities for the first 10 cars to start carrying passengers.
A week after transportation officials approved plans for BART extension to San Jose, the project is already facing a hurdle after the San Jose Sharks Sports & Entertainment (SSE) filed a suit against BART and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. SSE is a parent company of San Jose, Arena Management LLC, which administrated the SAP center, an 18,000-seat capacity which is used for regional multipurpose events located adjacent to the BART project at Diridon station. SSE is a major contributor to Measure B which is funding the BART Phase II Extension. The company complains that because of extension project there will be a negative impact on the parking near the SAP center. It also argues regarding the VTA’s plan which does not provide a safe accessible environment for their customers during construction. VTA plans to build eight-story parking garage at the Diridon station, due to this construction 715 parking spaces will be destroyed which are used by the arena customers. Even the nearby bars and restaurants depend on the event center activities to sustain on their businesses will be severely affected. Unfortunately, the company no longer believes that VTA would provide adequate parking spots for the arena customers.
Process towards approving the project and funding
VTA is currently developing a supplemental Federal/State environmental document that began in 2015. The State document and the Federal document is under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process respectively. For environmental purposes, the VTA Board of Directors will establish a project to include in a final environmental document after public meetings and circulation of a draft environmental document. A Recommended Project will be selected when VTA’s Board of Directors approves the state environmental document, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces a Record of Decision on the federal report. VTA submitted a New Starts Project Development application to FTA for entry into the New Starts funding program in 2018. Once a Recommended Project is selected, VTA plans to join into the New Starts Engineering phase of the funding program.
The total cost of the BART Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension is estimated to be $2.3 billion. Funding for this project is through multiple revenue streams. The project received a federal New Starts grant for $900 million. The rest of the funding is from the State of California and its Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP) and local 2000 Measure A sales tax revenues. The Berryessa Extension has a dedicated working and maintenance source funding. In November 2008, a countywide 1/8 cent sales tax bill passed by over a two-thirds majority, to support annual operating and maintenance expenses for the extension.
Similarly, the estimated cost for BART Silicon Valley Phase II Extension Project is $4.7 billion. the 2000 Measure A half-cent sales tax at $1.0 billion, the State of California and its Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP) at $160 million, federal grants including the New Starts program at about $1.5 billion, the 2016 Measure B, half-cent sales tax at $1.5 billion, and a maximum of $750 million from the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program.
Delays in delivering the new coaches to the BART system from its manufacturers took more than three-year long process. About 1100 used digital routers and switches have been installed by the contractor in the rail line’s communications, computer and security systems. The above failures could be avoided by implementing Lean method 5S.
5S is a system to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining an organized workplace. The 5S’s are Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke), provides a method for organizing, cleaning, developing, and sustaining a productivity in the working environment. The company’s routine works that support organization and orderliness are essential to a smooth and efficient flow of activities. This lean method motivates workers to develop their working condition. The first S, Sort focuses on eliminating unnecessary items. Sorting would have avoided the contractor in installing used computer equipments and communications in the transit system. The second step, Set In Order focuses on creating efficient storage methods to arrange items and to label them so that they are easy to find and easy to put back after use. Set In Order (Straighten) identifies and allocates a place for all the necessary parts such as routers and switches needed for the work. Set in Order can only be implemented only after sorting. This would have helped in monitoring the installed parts in the system. The next step, Shine identifies root causes of dirtiness. It involves organizing the equipments, cleaning the workplace and equipments daily once the work is done. When working in a clean workplace, workers will be able to notice malfunctions in equipment such as leakages, spills, damages and misalignments. Keeping the equipments clean would eliminate failure and need for replacement. The next step Standardizes the best practices through visual management (signs, placards, display scoreboards). It also makes it easy to move workers to different areas. The next step is Sustain which is the toughest phase require employees to follow and stick to the rules and make it a habit.
National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
Engineering is a important and profound profession. Engineers must exhibit highest standards of honesty and integrity. Engineering has a direct and necessary impact on the quality of life for all people. Accordingly, the services administered by engineers require honesty, equality, fairness, and equity, and must be committed to the security of the public health, safety, and welfare. Engineers must work under a standard of a professional role that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical behavior. Engineers, in the achievement of their professional duties, shall: give highest importance to the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Perform duties only in fields of their ability. Issue public statements just in an objective and correct manner. Act for each employer or client as trusted representatives. Avoid malicious acts. Conduct themselves fairly, responsibly, ethically, and legally to improve the honor, respect, and value of the profession.
There were instances when the NSPE code of ethics was violated during the construction process of the BART Extension Project. There were delays of new cars and contractors have installed used equipments in the transit system violating the Code of Ethics. Another instance where the authorities have failed to keep up the promise given to SSE about adequate parking near the Diridon area and a safe and accessible environment for the arena customers. Therefore, the BART Extension Project process followed the Code of Ethics for most of the part but there were few times where NSPE was violated.
Silicon Valley BART Extension Project is a six-station extension of the existing San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) system extending from Warm Springs/Fremont in Alameda County to Santa Clara County through the important cities Milpitas, Downtown San Jose, and Santa Clara. The Berryessa Extension (Phase I) is projected to open in 2019, majority of the construction will be complete by 2018 and BART system testing concluding in 2019. For Phase II extension, VTA Board approved the Project and certified final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued Record of Decision in June 2018. The Project is targeted to come into passengers service by 2026. Phase II extension Project approximates daily ridership of 52,000 by 2035. BART Extension Project will improve public transit service by providing faster, convenient access to and from Santa Clara County. Residents of this County will be provided with improved access to employment and activity centers in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco counties. Improves local connectivity with VTA light rail, Caltrain, and VTA bus services in Santa Clara County; develop intermodal transit hubs where rail, bus, auto, bicycle, and pedestrian connects. BART will develop mobility services to employment, education, medical, and local centers for residents in that area, in particular low-income, students, elderly, disabled and minority populations. BART stations and the connection to VTA light rail in northern Santa Clara County offers the most promising opportunities for transit-oriented development on a large scale. Will increase housing markets in the Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara to direct business and household investments in the Alum Rock, downtown San Jose, Diridon Station, and Santa Clara. Provides added spur to changing the patterns of development in Silicon Valley. Necessary employment and residential growth are occurring in the proximity of existing and proposed transit facilities.
Therefore, the BART extension project clearly envisions the level of developments to the residents and nearby areas. Though there were some drawbacks regarding the installation of used parts, delay in delivering the new cars and violating the NSPE by not providing parking spaces for the arena customers near Diridon station. However, I believe it is worth the trade-offs. BART Silicon Valley is envisioned to support approximately 2500 jobs annually. Over 18,000 direct and indirect jobs are associated with completing the project. The project will benefit the local economy, enhance regional connectivity, ease traffic congestion, and improve access to employment, education, medical, and retail markets. The beginning day ridership for the Berryessa Extension is estimated at 23,000. By implementing Lean methods and following NSPE Code of Ethics, the BART extension project would be a success.
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