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Oakland Airport tram gains needed funds

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Frequent fliers could be gliding high above Oakland on an airport light-rail system after transit agencies found funds needed for a controversial project that was abandoned by the federal government.

A $484 million plan to build a 3.2-mile overhead tram network between BART’s Oakland Coliseum station and Oakland International Airport will receive a needed $20.7 million infusion after a Metropolitan Transportation Commission ruling.

The overhead tram is planned to replace a slower bus shuttle that ferries BART riders to and from the airport. Building the system has been a goal of officials and planners for decades, but critics characterize the project as an expensive boondoggle that will damage BART’s budget.

Construction, which could take four years, was scheduled to begin this year, but the project’s future was thrown into jeopardy after the Federal Transit Administration ruled that BART failed low-income communities in planning efforts and withdrew
$70 million in stimulus funds.

Transit commissioners voted 6-2 on Wednesday to take funding away from road projects in Fremont and Alameda County to help close the final $20.7 million funding gap.

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— John Upton

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