One topic VTA keeps bringing up, related to BART Phase II, is their need for the Newhall Yard maintenance facility. This is on 42 acres of prime land near the Santa Clara train station, Avaya stadium, Lowes Hardware and has direct access to highway 880.
The Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog has an interesting article about station utilization by the Caltrain and the HSR trains. The basic question can be summed up as, “Why are we wasting space at the stations by storing trains in that location?”
San Jose is the tenth largest city in the U.S. (by population), with more people than San Francisco; the city achieves this statistical feat by encompassing 180 square miles. Such a large and populous city surely deserves top-notch rail transit. BART is widely viewed as top-notch rail transit, which is why the city and VTA (Santa Clara County’s transportation authority) have made extending BART through San Jose their very top priority.
He proposes that HSR use the Newhall Yard as the place to store/maintain trains between trips, instead of tying up precious space at Diridon Station.
For a long time, I have been advocating moving the Newhall Yard to a site located near the new Berryessa BART station. I did some rough Google map calculations. There is a light industrial area below the Berryessa Station — bounded by Maybury / King / Silver Creek / tracks — that appears to be over 100 acres.
It seems to me that land around the Newhall Yard area would be worth a lot more, being near the airport, highways and Caltrain, than the light industrial land near King and Maybury. It is prime TOD/mixed-use land and would fit in perfectly with VTA’s pending policy on affordable housing in joint developments.
True, a maintenance facility at Berryessa would not be at the end-of-line. However, I would see it as more accessible to the northern regions, given that the trains going to/from the maintenance yard would not need to go through the tunnel or deal with the congestion at the Diridon Station.
The area around the old rail road tracks — 52 acres – is labeled on my map as the Southern Section. If you look closely at the satellite images, you can still see some of the original tracks.That shows how easy it should be to connect into the new BART system.
- Construction of a Berryessa maintenance facility could be completed and brought online long before the Phase II tunnel construction has even been started.
- The income from the development and sale of Newhall Yard should be sufficient to help with the buy out of the needed Berryessa property and supplying relocation assistance to the current owners and tenants.
- Removal of the maintenance facility from the BART Phase II project and applying any excess funds to it, may help ease some of the cost issues remaining on that project.
- This would place the maintenance facility jobs near a region of the city where a large work force lives, potentially shortening commutes.
Now another, possibly more important use for Newhall Yard has been proposed. Maybe this time, someone at VTA might actually look at the concept.
PS — I haven’t mentioned this previously here, as BART is outside the discussion of DMU trains. However, improving Diridon throughput could support future DMU options.