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Plans Emerge For Train Service Between Central Valley And Bay Area

DUBLIN (KPIX 5) -- New plans are emerging about BART and ACE train service that would connect California's Central Valley with the Bay Area.

A move that could unlock more affordable housing for people who work in the Bay Area and jobs for those who work in the Central Valley.

In exchange for a critical vote to pass the recent gas tax hike, a promise was made to extend the Altamont Corridor Express train, that currently runs from Stockton to San Jose from Stockton all the way to down to Merced.

At the same time -- Bay Area and Central Valley lawmakers are quietly moving to push BART to extend to the Livermore area, where it would hook up with the ACE train so passengers could connect between the two systems.

Randy Rentschler with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission says, "The goal is to meet with the ACE train a little bit east of Livermore."

And with that hook up, you would instantly create the biggest mass transit system in the state.

Scott Haggerty of Alameda County said, "We're seeing major congestion on all of our interstates right now."

Another reason to make it easier to get to the central valley - housing.

Haggerty said, "Get people from the good paying jobs here in the Bay Area to affordable housing."

The median prices of homes in San Francisco, San Jose and Concord and then look at the median price of a home in Merced.

Still, there is a hefty cost, about $1 billion.

"We have tremendous support. Not only on the local level we also have it from the Congressional delegation," Haggerty said.

BART however, has questions.

BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman said, "We need to look at what makes sense for the whole region."

But can BART even handle the extra passengers?

Saltzman said, "Tomorrow? No. But BART, as you know, has a lot of plans to expand the system."

Rentschler said, "What you are seeing are little pieces starting to come together, but the bigger goal is to connect the Bay Area to the Central Valley and to the rest of California."

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