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VTA Proposing to Extend Light Rail to the Town of Los Gatos

Existing line will expand by 1.6 miles to town borders.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is proposing to extend the existing Mountain View to Winchester Boulevard light rail line by 1.6 miles by way of the Vasona Light Rail Extension Project.

The extension would begin at the existing Winchester Station in Campbell and continue within the VTA right-of-way to the Town of Los Gatos. 

VTA has prepared a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (SEIR/EA).

In accordance with current state and federal environmental laws and guidelines, the Draft SEIR/EA presents design changes to the project that was previously approved in 2000 while also disclosing the environmental impacts of those design changes. 

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, a meeting will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Campbell Public Library, 77 Harrison Ave. to discuss the project. Members of the public are encouraged to attend to review the SEIR/EA, speak with staff about the project, and provide comments.

The original Vasona Corridor Project proposed light rail service from downtown San Jose through the City of Campbell to the Town of Los Gatos.

The first portion, downtown San Jose to the Winchester Station in Campbell, opened for revenue service on Oct. 1, 2005, adding 5.3 miles and eight stations to VTA’s 36.9-mile light rail system. 

“As the fourth major light rail extension since 1999, the line to Campbell has provided a convenient and economical travel option for West Valley residents, given VTA customers direct access to the multi-modal San Jose Diridon transit hub, and doubled light rail service along North First Street in San Jose,” said Los Gatos Councilman Joe Pirzynski and VTA board vice chairman.

Pirzynski also served on the Vasona Corridor Advisory Committee from 2001-2005. “I am encouraged to see the extension project moving through the environmental process which gets us one step closer to becoming eligible for federal funding.” 

The proposed extension will be implemented in two phases based on funding availability.

Project features in phase 1 include construction of a double set of light rail tracks at the Winchester Station; expansion of parking capacity at the Winchester Station; and a new Vasona Junction Station along with a park and ride lot. 

Phase 2 would construct a new Hacienda Light Rail Station with an optional park and ride lot.

The cost of the project is estimated to be $175 million.

For more information, visit the Vasona Light Rail Extension Project page on VTA’s website or contact VTA Community Outreach at 408-321-7575.

To stay current on project updates, sign up for automated emails or text alerts by clicking the blue envelope on the VTA website at www.vta.org

VTA is an independent special district that provides sustainable, accessible, community-focused transportation options that are innovative, environmentally responsible, and promote the vitality of our region. 

VTA is responsible for bus, light rail and paratransit operations and also serves as the county’s congestion management agency. As such, VTA is responsible for countywide transportation planning, including congestion management issues, specific highway improvement projects, pedestrian and bicycle improvement projects, and provides these services throughout the county, including the municipalities of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga and Sunnyvale. VTA continually builds partnerships to deliver transportation solutions that meet the evolving mobility needs of Santa Clara County.

Seymour Butts November 24, 2012 at 03:14 PM
mathematically impossible to justify.
Larry Arzie November 24, 2012 at 04:38 PM
And who will use it. I took it twice from Campbell to Rod Diridon, it was late, it was empty, and it took half an hour. This is just a pre-curser to the massive housing requirements demanded by the State for Los Gatos. Provide transportation for the housing corridor and they will come: the speculators, the builders, the developers, the money lenders. You can thank VTA Board for bringing high density housing to Los Gatos. School districts will be happy.
AR November 24, 2012 at 05:11 PM
towns that cling to cars will inevitably be shut out of county, state and federal transportation funds, as these govt agencies push a more diverse mix of transportation options. if you think rail access dooms a community, I suggest looking at real estate in Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto. anyone who commutes from 17 to 280 or 85 can attest to their full saturation. something has to be done, expanding highways is no longer an option.
Kit Menkin November 24, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Didn't we learn anything from the delay in bringing Highway 85 to completion? Or not having Bart connected to Silicon Valley? As the population continues to grow, and development continues in Los Gatos, this is a must to get cars off the road, preserve our environment and plan for the future ahead---not from when it will much more difficult, much more expensive,and perhaps too late.
Sandy Vaurs November 24, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I use VTA quite often to go to downtown SJ and an extension to Vasona Station sounds like a winner to me. The Winchester lot is too small and expansion of that lot will be welcomed. Also, I disagree with Larry A. From my experience, it has never been late and fills up as it proceeds north. Being on the south end of the line has an advantage in that you board an empty car. I love using VTA and the Clipper card is another winner. Yay!
Kristina Strand November 24, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Our entire family would use it, as would many who we know. This cannot come soon enough! It is an investment in our inrastructure that in future years will be seen as obvious. So happy it is being considered and dearly hope naysayers will not stand in its way.
Larry Arzie November 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM
The advent of 85 and for that matter 17 brought more people from Silicon Valley to live here as transportation was made easier on these freeways. With it brought uncontrolled growth in the burbs. Light rail will be a continuance of the same thing. Before we start singing praise about how much light rail will do for us we need to think about additional consequences that will burden our infrastructure and make us a bedroom community of San Jose. (if we are not already) We need to plan our needs for the future rather than let the State do it for us. Do we want incredible housing density along the transportation corridor? Do we want infill for housing wherever there be a lot division. Do we want flag lots. Do we want planned 4 unit condos next door to us after they tear down a 1950 house. Do we want 5 story residential housing complexs on Winchester (the State does) and the N. 40. We have lax land use laws that change with the demand of population growth. It is inevitable that change will happen, but what kind of change is up to us. The outside demand for Los Gatos has already changed the face of Santa Cruz Ave's retail district and parts of the Blvd and many neighborhoods. The schools are nowsuffering the consequences. I would like Los Gatos to stay viable but with orderly controled growth. Which does not mean build it and they will come.
AR November 25, 2012 at 02:56 AM
lamenting 85 and 17 indicates to me that you are pining for the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth. you claim you want orderly growth - this is exactly what diverse transportation options provide. the alternative is a minimum 60 minute drive to mountain view during peak commute, and our town inaccessible as a result. the population is growing....how do you recommend we act?
Gabe Roberts November 25, 2012 at 03:53 AM
The light rail to the proposed stations will benefit Los Gatos. There are people like me, who I see daily commuting to the Winchester station. Some drive in higher end vehicles like Mercedes, others in civics. Some are clearly students, and others are business people. It is very unlikely to change the demographic of Los Gatos, from my personal observation. If individuals are fearful of increased smaller dwellings in town, they need to consider two things. One: smaller unit housing is mandated by state laws, which are what should be targeted if they want to change that. VTA extensions will not increase the quantity of units. Second: The proposed VTA extension, to the degree that it would affect housing production, would help concentrate it in that area of town, which is an ideal location - easy access to freeways, and unlikely to contribute to crowding in the concentrated downtown LG area. Additionally, since this branch would connect LG to the tech-heavy Mountain View region, it would increase housing demand by tech-industry individuals, who likely have free or discounted VTA passes and a personal orientation towards "green" living. Finally, I want to highlight that after hundreds of commutes via Light Rail, it is much more reliable and consistent than vehicular commuting. Train rides vary by only 2 to 5 minutes except in rare occasions. Please don't blame VTA for increasing low-income housing requirements - these are State laws - target those.
Gabe Roberts November 25, 2012 at 04:00 AM
I also want to point out that, as a close witness of the housing situation in neighbor Monte Sereno, having studied RHNA and the laws regarding it, the VTA is not the driver of housing zoning requirements for the city. The housing requirements are set at state level, and Los Gatos may choose where to locate the housing. I am one of the people who are the hypothetical typical VTA commuter - working in an office building in downtown San Jose, but living in a "granny" unit in downtown Los Gatos. I actively support the community, travel on foot frequently, and spend money at local businesses. I keep an eye out for crime, and take pride in living here, as many of my fellow local renters do. Additionally, many housing developments such as the Bluebird Lane development (and other former car dealerships) on LG Blvd. are the majority of the housing that is being developed to meet state RHNA requirements. They are tastefully done (due to market pressure thanks to high housing values) and often replace severely dated structures that were actually detrimental to local housing values. I encourage you all who haven't to take the light rail if possible for commuting, to a Sharks game, or Christmas in the Park. The light rail is a valuable resource that can have an overall positive benefit on our community. And let's also highlight - growth in population is what contributes to the home value increase in town in the last 25 years!
Jim Galagher November 25, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Larry A's comments are just oh so smug. And oh so out of touch. He's concerned that the light rail will "make us a bedroom community of San Jose"! Really ?!? Welcome to 2012, Larry. Los Gatos was a bedroom of San Jose long before I moved here in 1981 and it will be so long after we're gone. Most of the people I know in town don't work here; we all crawl up 85 each day to get to the kind of jobs that pay enough to allow us to live here. 4 unit condos? Flag lots? 5 story housing complexes? Good Lord, say it isn't so! Parochial comments like that make me chuckle - and wonder what the REAL old-time Los Gatans would think of the current traffic congestion and proliferation of real estate offices, wine bars, coffee houses and twee boutiques and antique stores - where nothing of note is produced except ambiance.
Kit Menkin November 25, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Larry's opinion is his opinion, and he being a long time resident of the community, liked it when it was a small town 30 to 50 years ago. He wants to keep it that flavor as he remembers it. Oh, well...
Larry Arzie November 25, 2012 at 08:17 PM
My good friend Kit points out the obvious. One of the reasons for Los Gatos's popularity is it "flavor". I would like to keep it but thats problematic. We turned this town into an elitist enclave in the 1970s and that bubble has popped. I agree it is over with and today we must be concerned with providing housing no matter where we live, but we must as well not create chaos on our local arteries, or schools, in our need to unclog the freeways. The State has mandated more housing than what is being produced, and due to our negligence in not providing the requisite proposal to the State in a timely fashion, they did it for us. As I understand they drew a line right down Santa Cruz Ave and Winchester and said this is where you will put increased density housing as it follows the transportation corridor and that's where housing belongs. The VTA proposal falls in line with this decision. I had hoped that we could not create a mass housing corridor in between 17 and Winchester but disperse housing at less congested places to avoid the often stand still of traffic on our streets. By putting both mass housing and light rail together is the obvious conclusion concerned people have come to. If the local traffic problems can be mitigated by this rather than further eroded and figure out how to build housing and get people to VTA stations without cars I.E. shuttles, busses, etc then it's worth investigating. The demand for housing needs to be addressed. NICE COMMENTS PEOPLE
Larry Arzie November 25, 2012 at 08:25 PM
AR I brought up 17 and 85 as a historical prospective into what happens when it is made easier to live outside a metropolitan (city) area and commute to work. I did this to point out that VTA will as well make it easier to commute and the demand to live in Los Gatos will further increase, placing a hardship on our infrastructure.
Kit Menkin November 25, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Well said, Larry. Can't disagree with your position. But as they say in Hollister, "The cow is out of the barn."
Gabe Roberts November 25, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Interesting to note that it will be the third time that rail based transportation will be available in Los Gatos, so in a sense, it really is true to what helped build the the town in the first place. People on foot and rail built and established the community long before motor vehicles hit Los Gatos streets.
AR November 26, 2012 at 01:29 AM
rail IS "infrastructure". it reduces demand on the roads. i understand your general point, but i don't see impending doom. most people in LG work outside of LG. transportation relief is desperately needed. many other highly desirable cvommunities have had rail for decades. one thing i believe you are 100% wrong on is the value/harm of density. young people today WANT it. thats why they live in places like SF and not gilroy. i think you just need to accept reality...no one under fifty is looking to take LG back to rural chic.
Larry Cargnoni November 26, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Just check the ridership numbers...and the while you're eating your baskin and robins, just observe the actual number of people taking light rail....not too many huh? Light rail's not working from Almaden or from South SJ - and no, 15-20 people per train is not the definition of "it's working"....so what makes anyone think that LR to an affuent burg like LG is going to work? It might make sense for sharks games. It's just more "make work"....and none of it will ease congestion on 280. Better off learning to work remotely, chaning commute patterns, and making all the freeways toll roads...
Gabe Roberts November 26, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Larry. I actually take the VTA daily, getting on the 6:59 or 7:14 train North, and arriving back on whatever train I catch. The train is already over 75% full by the time it reaches downtown San Jose, and visa versa coming back to Los Gatos. Because the southern branches extend out from job areas into predominantly residential areas, the train has gradually ramping up ridership as it progresses inward. If the two stops were added, then the trains likely would be overfull during peak hours. Additionally, many potential riders from the LG area work for companies or go to SJSU, where transportation passes are provided for. For people in this (my) group, it's ideal, and from actually riding the train at various times, for several years, to hear anyone suggest that it would not work suggests that you may not have commuted via light rail before from Los Gatos. It does work.
Gabe Roberts November 27, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I wish there was a way to post a picture from the Winchester bound train Im on right now. Almost to Campbell and it's about 75% full still. Last I checked, there are no Sharks games getting out right now.
Gary Hinze January 11, 2013 at 06:54 AM
Gabe, if you take pictures, you can post them at the top of the article, under the picture, where it says "Upload Photos and Videos".

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