The BART Board of Directors has just moved forward with bringing Bay Area residents $1 billion in transit expansion projects. On Thursday, April 23, Board members voted to construct a 10-mile extension into eastern Contra Costa County and approved two significant elements of the funding plan for the Oakland Airport Connector. Both historic projects will help create jobs, stimulate the region’s economy, provide congestion relief and improve air quality.
"This is indeed a red letter day for BART," BART Board President Thomas Blalock said. "I think of the convenience, jobs and the positive impact these projects will have on the environment and I smile."
"BART is an integral and vital part of the Bay Area Community," BART Board Vice President James Fang said. Fang, who is the Board’s longest-serving member, added, "Through the actions of Thursday’s meeting we are delighted to not only create eco-friendly transit solutions, which now connect two of the Bay Area’s major airports, but bring critical construction revenue to the region."
$479 Million “eBART” Project Will Extend Service 10 Miles
The $479 million extension, called "eBART," or east Contra Costa BART, will use Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technology. The tracks will extend BART service beyond the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART Station, go down the median of Highway 4, through Pittsburg and Antioch and terminate east of Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch. BART expects to complete the extension in 2015.
"We evaluated several extension scenarios for eastern Contra Costa County and clearly the DMU is the most cost effective technology for this project," BART Board Member Joel Keller said. Keller represents BART District 2, which includes Pittsburg and Antioch. "eBART is fully funded from state, regional and local sources, so it’s practical to move forward with this phase of the project now instead of waiting longer for the more than $1 billion it would take to build an extension with traditional BART train technology. It’s important to note that moving forward with DMU technology does not preclude a future BART extension, if funding were to become available in the future. Finally, DMU technology also provides the opportunity to expand BART service to in the future to Oakley, Brentwood, Byron/Discovery Bay and beyond."
eBART good for environment and economy
Thursday’s Board action adopted the project and certified the environmental impact report on the project. "DMU trains are environmentally sustainable," Blalock said. "They use ultra-low sulfur fuel and meet all applicable U.S. and California air quality standards." Europe and San Diego County are just some of the places that use DMU systems.
"Approving the eBART extension brings us closer to providing commute relief to the highly congested Highway 4 corridor," Blalock said. "One DMU train will carry as many people as 250 cars, greatly reducing greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions. This also shows that we are not locked into one type of transit technology to provide connectivity and traffic relief."
According to the American Public Transportation Association’s job generation/economic impact formula, the project will support and/or create approximately 15,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate about $1 billion in economic activity.
BART Board acts on Oakland Airport Connector
The long-awaited Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), which the Board approved in 2002, took two significant steps forward on the project. The Board only has one more step to go in order to complete its role in securing the final funding package for the $500 million, 3.2-mile elevated connector between the Coliseum BART Station and Oakland International Airport.
"This project is very important to the people of my district and the millions who use the Oakland Airport because it directly creates hundreds of jobs during construction and provides those who fly in and out of Oakland a quick, convenient and reliable connection with BART," BART Board Member Carole Ward Allen said.
According to the American Public Transportation Association’s job generation/economic impact formula, the project will also support and/or create approximately 13,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate $1.2 billion in economic activity.
"Finally both the SFO and Oakland airports will be connected to BART," Ward Allen said. "After all these years – almost 20, in fact – we will have BART service to Oakland Airport. I’m also very happy that the project will include disadvantaged business enterprise goals to create opportunities for companies run by people of color and women."
At the Thursday meeting, board members approved two elements of the Oakland Airport Connector funding strategy: to receive $70 million in federal stimulus funds, and to support the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s action to re-assign the OAC project $50 million in savings that BART’s achieved from its Transbay Tube Earthquake Safety project. The Board postponed its vote on the final piece of funding that BART’s responsible for – the up to $150 million in federal financing – until the public has a chance to see the final ridership analysis that supports the federal financing plan.