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District 9 Candidates Split Over BART Plans 

Wednesday, Aug 3 2016
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Latina community leader Gladys Soto thinks nobody cares about where she lives, in a Mission Street corridor that snakes south of Cesar Chavez Street but not quite in the Outer Mission.

"I want a real solution for the neighborhood," Soto said.

The tongue-shaped corridor, dubbed "La Lengua" in recent years, is served by many Muni lines but is equally far from the 24th Street and Glen Park BART stations. It's the longest stretch in San Francisco — a three-minute ride, while other stations are one or two minutes apart.

"There's never really been a plan for this neighborhood," said District 9 supervisor candidate Joshua Arce during a news conference last week in the Safeway parking lot near 30th and Mission streets.

"What if that solution is just right here below our feet?" he asked.

Arce plans to push for a new BART station near that intersection, where approximately 10,000 people board buses every day, according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson Paul Rose.

In 2003, the city published a study about a potential BART station at 30th and Mission, but didn't pursue the idea. At the time, constructing the new station would have required ripping up a section of Mission Street and flattening the grade of the underground track — "none of which would be required today, bringing the cost way down," wrote Arce's staff member Jacquelyn Omotalade in an email.

BART Director Nick Josefowitz says today's machines would enable crews to do the drilling from underground.

"We're sitting here today in a half-empty parking lot," Josefowitz says. "Instead, we could have the affordable housing that could help people stay in this neighborhood ... and that could be a catalyst for connecting this neighborhood, through BART, to our regional transportation network."

In a San Francisco Examiner op-ed in March, Josefowitz pushed for voters to approve a $3.5 billion BART bond measure on the November ballot. BART's 44-year-old infrastructure and 1960s computer system can barely handle today's ridership of 450,000 trips a day, he wrote. Josefowitz was elected in 2014 on a platform that included building new stations on the existing BART network.

One of Arce's three opponents in the supervisorial race is Hillary Ronen, a legislative aide to current District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who disagrees that a new station is the best way to expand BART.

"First priority needs to be extending the safety of the system and that it's reliable," Ronen says. "I would also like to see BART run 24 hours. I think it's ridiculous ... for workers who work at night."

The late-night closures are crucial for maintenance because the system was built with only one track, according to BART's website.

A multi-city Bay Area Transit Core Capacity Study is underway to analyze possibly adding a second transbay tube for expanded BART hours and will conclude in 2018.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misquoted BART Director Nick Josefowitz as saying “... today’s machines would enable crews to do all the drilling from underground.” The story has since been updated to reflect the fact that some of the necessary drilling may be done from the top.

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Michaela Payne

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