Guadalupe rail yard integral to restoring VTA light rail service, agency pushes for recovery funds

In a major step following last month's mass shooting, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's board took emergency action Friday to streamline the process for repairs and for leasing new buildings. This, along with a push for state recovery funds, may help bring light rail service back soon.

This is an important part of the plan: addressing damage to the facilities and making sure buildings are ready when the workers are.

In the weeks since the mass shooting at VTA that killed nine, there has been no light rail service. And there have been no workers coming and going from the Guadalupe yard.

There's simply too much damage, both emotionally and physically.

"I've toured that facility and there's some question in all our minds as to at what point can you bring people back in there and assure them that things are safe once again," says Senator Dave Cortese, who represents District 15, which includes the yard.

Cortese saw the aftermath. He says the shooting left behind not just bullet holes, but also exposed problems with the VTA buildings. Some were aging, some were lacking safe exits.

He says he's seeking recovery funds at the state level.

"Don't be alarmed if it seems a little bit quiet. Some of the brightest minds in state government and government operations are working right now to figure out how to bring some help here to Santa Clara County to get things back to normal," says Cortese.

That's what VTA's Board wants too. Today, they officially declared an emergency.

For a period of 90 days, that allows VTA to skip a lengthy bid process for repairs and also enter into lease agreements up to $2-million, without going back to the board.

"If we need to do certain changes or repairs to the facilities or if we need to lease additional facilities, it just improves the speed with which we can get that done to resume service to our customers that much faster," says VTA Board Chair Glenn Hendricks.

There is a sense of urgency says Hendricks. He recognizes VTA riders have been patient.

But he says the Guadalupe Yard, site of the shooting, is integral to restoring service.

"So we are going to have to be able to return there. There's just certain things that can only be done there. We are looking at either temporary space on the facility or potentially being able to do work off site," he says.

In the meantime, an internal team is blocking out a plan, all the steps needed to bring light rail back.

"We're hoping to be able to make an announcement about service resumption in the next couple of weeks," says Hendricks.

There are still a lot of steps that need to happen before that announcement is made. Until then, residents who normally take light rail are expected to use bus service when possible.