(Editor's note: Patch reader Peggy Combs recently published an overview of the project for those just tuning in the issue. .)
A well-attended town hall meeting Thursday night gave AC Transit a forum to promote its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan as a futuristic project that will bring short-term jobs and long-term investment to the East Bay.
More than 75 San Leandrans attended the meeting in the City Hall complex. The format was ideal for the district: posters describing the project's advantages lined the walls. AC Transit staff stood by to answer questions. Two giant maps of the route through San Leandro were spread out on tables. AC Transit project manager Jim Cunradi showed a video promoting the BRT as blending the speediness of trains with the lower cost of busses.
Unlike a public hearing, the format gave attendees a chance to ask the question that has stirred opposition in the north end of town: must AC Transit run dedicated bus lines and concrete barriers four blocks into San Leandro when small portion of the route will cause parking and turn lane inconveniences?
Mayor Stephen Cassidy briefly addresed the gathering, saying the BRT would come before the City Council in April. The council can influence the course of the project in San Leandro. Also speaking briefly at the meeting Thursday night were Councilwoman Pauline Cutter and Vice Mayor Michael Gregory, the elected officials arguably the least and most favorably disposed toward the BRTt.
Cunradi talked about the jobs potential of the BRT. He said it could inject $200 million into the local economy, create 300 construction jobs over the three-year installation process and an estimated 400 retail and support jobs.
The project would also repave 10 miles of heavily used streets, while AC Transit's "Buy American" policy would ensure that dollars aren't exported, he said.
The biggest potential -- and also the most speculative -- impacts of the project would be the prospect that the BRT would draw investment to the International Boulevard/East 14th Street corridor of Oakland.
Cunradi held up Cleveland's BRT as the model for the economic revitalization of a tough urban corridor that had attracted $4.3 billion in real estate investment to that Ohio city.
(To get San Leandro Patch delivered by email click here.)