Valley Link Train – Reality Check

Whether or not the proposed Valley Link Rail train follows the same fate as “BART to Livermore”, remains to be seen. BART was a 50 year story with multiple chapters that ultimately amounted to nothing except tens of millions wasted on studies and planning. Added to that were hundreds of millions of Livermore tax funds that never went to serve our residents.

Since Valley Link’s inception, the agency in charge has produced occasional promotional updates. We can expect that to continue. You’ll hear about it in the news, at meetings and through various forms of commentary. But, will the train ever arrive?

We can’t know the answer to that question now. The problem is, Livermore officials are preemptively going about City business as if it will be built, rather than presenting it as something that may be built.

The Isabel Neighborhood problem

The so-called “Isabel neighborhood” area of town was prematurely rezoned for 4000 new homes in 2022. The City Council did not wait for public transit planning to be finalized prior to beginning to construct housing units. The disturbing part is that the housing developers are being told in very certain terms by city staff that the area will be served by a Valley Link train station. Currently, that is too strong a statement and is irresponsible to assert.

We are quite concerned that the overt promotion of Valley Link will encourage some of the home buyers, if not most of them, to expect to be able to use Valley Link for daily transportation. If it does not come to fruition, one can envision a great deal of strife and very possibly lawsuits on the basis of false advertising. Those lawsuits might not be limited to the developers, as the city is openly publicizing to the developers that the train will be built. In the process of selling newly built residences, these developers will doubtlessly laud the train as one of the benefits to buyers.

We would caution everyone at this time (residents, city staff, developers, and any agency) to consider the Valley Link train as a potential transit project with an unknown operational date. Ideally, the actual construction of most Isabel related projects should be put on hold until we can have greater certainty about the transit availability.

It is also worth remembering that the original idea was for no Isabel neighborhood at all, unless the area was serviced by full, real BART. It won’t be fair to anyone if we end up creating a borough poorly planned from a traffic perspective, and not even a consolation train to show for it.