To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rail to Redlands project update shows increased costs


By Greg Cappis, November 3, 2013

As the Rail to Redlands project rumbles along, officials reported delays, rising costs and a bus system integrated with the commuter train line to expand public transportation opportunities in the East Valley.

Originally, the project extending the Metrolink from San Bernardino to three stops in Redlands was expected to cost around $156 million. At a meeting of stakeholders Wednesday, officials said the extension project is now expected to cost between $200 and $300 million.

San Bernardino Associated Governments is leading the project that combines public and private funds.

Bids for the first mile of trackwork and a transit center in downtown San Bernardino have been sent out.

“We want to award (those two) contracts at our December board meeting,” said Mitch Alderman, SANBAG transit director.

Final design plans will get underway next spring, before environmental reports are expected to be cleared — in mid-2014, according to Alderman.

He said the recent, partial government shutdown delayed part of the environmental review process, but “we’re still anticipating environmental clearance sometime in the middle of next year.”

Another mix up in required environmental documents cost $1 million and a year’s time, Alderman said.

Alderman presented the project update inside the San Bernardino County government building to other members of a steering committee formed by Third District Supervisor James Ramos to keep the project on track.

The group also heard a presentation from Omnitrans about new and altered bus lines, planned to coincide with the new train stops.

The easternmost stop is planned for the University of Redlands. Another stop will be located near downtown. The third stop will be near Esri’s campus at New York Street and Redlands Boulevard before continuing to San Bernardino.

From there, the Metrolink can transport passengers to Los Angeles’ Union Station where riders can hop on other lines or buses.

Omnitrans expects a rapid transit bus to run from Northern San Bernardino to the transit center in downtown San Bernardino before continuing southwest to Loma Linda. They’re hoping thousands of employees and students take advantage of the two-prong transportation system.

Officials are working to adjust bus routes so people can take public transportation from their homes to work.

“Making sure to integrate the two systems is really important,” said Larry Sharp of Inland Action, a nonprofit driven to improve the economic landscape of the Inland Empire.

For example, in downtown Redlands the current Omnitrans bus stop is a block or two from the proposed site of the train station, according to Alderman, who spoke of moving it closer to the train stop.

“If you’re really going to have a viable system it would be best if you left your car at home,” Sharp said.

The ad hoc committee is scheduled to reconvene Feb. 27.