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Tracing Tracy Territory

Kudos for keeping consistent voice on Valley Link

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It’s no surprise that I’m a strong supporter of establishing a light rail system traversing the Altamont Pass to connect our area to the Tri-Valley and BART while easing the Altamont traffic nightmare.

With that in mind, I believe two actions by the City Council last week deserve a “job well done” shoutout.

One action was to approve requesting $25 million in federal funds to build elements of what is now called the Valley Link system in our area. The request is likely to be carried by a San Joaquin County delegation, including members from the city of Tracy, when they travel to our nation’s capital on an upcoming “One Voice” trip.

It is the first step toward generating $361 million for the light rail system in our area — starting to the east at a North Lathrop station and continuing west toward to the Mountain House station, with River Islands and downtown Tracy stations in between.

Tri-Valley funds have already been earmarked for initial local support in Alameda County for the light rail stretch over the Altamont to BART’s Dublin-Pleasanton station.

Obviously, with a $1.8 billion price tag attached to the total Valley Link system, the $25 million request from Tracy is only one of many pieces of the financial puzzle that must be pieced together. Importantly, it signals local support when much larger federal and state grants are sought.

The other action taken by the council last week was to reappoint Veronica Vargas as the city’s representative on the Valley Link board, officially called the Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority.

Even before the authority was established in late 2017 by state legislation signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, Veronica was involved in its organization through her contacts with Tri-Valley elected officials. I’ve seen her in action as the board’s vice chairman at a number of meetings and hearings for more than a year.

After being re-elected, by a slender margin, to the City Council in November, it was expected Veronica would not be re-elected as mayor pro tem by the council. That proved to be the case.

What came as a surprise, to at least some on the dais, was that Nancy Young, who succeeded her as mayor pro tem, cast the tie-breaking vote that reappointed Veronica as the city’s rep on the Valley Link board.

The two council members have butted heads on a number of issues over the past two years, but Nancy knew of Veronica’s commitment to and extensive experience with the Valley Link project, saying it was only fair she be reappointed. It also assured continuity of the city’s representation on the Valley Link board.

And who knows, maybe it is the first tangible evidence that the new era of cooperation promised by council members is not only talk but action.

In the photo are…

The photo in last week’s column showing not only Wing Lee and myself but also eight other members of our seventh-grade class caused me to attempt to identify others in the photo.

I’ve come close to doing that, with one exception: the girl at the far right on the second row. I haven’t a clue. Maybe someone has an idea who she was.

From my memory bank, those in the photo are: Top row, from left: myself, Wing Lee and Marcelo Martinez. Middle row, from left: Rose Neves, Veronica Nielsen, Linea Noack and the unidentified girl. Bottom row, from left: Antonia Laguna, Irene Heard and Phyllis Herndon.

Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at

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