SF to Study New Tunnel Under Bay
Bay Area Rapid Transit officials recently announced a feasibility study for a second transportation tunnel running under San Francisco Bay, which would both double capacity and allow for trains to run for 24 hours a day. Funding construction of the actual tunnel remains an issue, however.
The survey, slated to cost $10 million, would include the evaluation of potential connection points for the new $12-15 billion tunnel, as well as investigating what communities would be best served and what agencies would be involved with operations.
Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman told local news station KTVU that there are many options available when it comes to connecting the East Bay to San Francisco; among these is connecting Alameda to Mission Bay.
The study will also examine the possibility of other transit agencies, such as Caltrain or high-speed rail, using the tube. BART spokesperson Alicia Trost noted that a second Transbay tunnel would double their capacity and allow the agency to run trains 24 hours a day.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Wunderman also added that, if one tube were shut down for repairs, the other would be available. Currently, a shutdown would paralyze the system.
Other issues remain, however: the cost; and accommodating high-speed and Caltrain rail, given that both use narrower tracks than BART’s system.
The transit authority plans to pay for a number of studies and some early engineering with $200 million out of Measure RR, the $3.5 billion bond intended for system modernization.
Regional Measure III, the proposal on the table set to be voted on in June, would raise bridge tolls for all Bay Area bridges (except the Golden Gate Bridge) from $5 to $8, and $6 to $9 during commute hours on the Bay Bridge. If the measure passes with voters, $50 million of the money raised by the tolls would be put toward further study for the new tube.
A new fleet of rail cars and a new control system that allows trains to run closer together is expected to increase capacity of the current tube by 25 percent by 2025.
As it stands, the ridership of the current system is slated to reach max capacity in 2030.