By Xuan Lam
BART Website Intern
At the opening of the new dog park in Fremont Central Park on Wednesday, a cacophony of howls and yips from assorted canines mixed with excited chatter and laughter from dog owners.
When the ribbon was finally cut by Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman and BART Board Director Tom Blalock, dogs thronged the oasis-like park, which stood in stark contrast to the booming construction nearby. The dog park opening is the latest milestone in BART's Warm Springs Extension project, part of the long-term vision for bringing BART to Silicon Valley. Completion of the new dog park fulfills BART's commitment to build and open the new facility before closing the old park, which will make way for construction of the BART extension.
"What’s important about getting the dog park open was that it was the last thing standing between us and starting the excavation," said BART's Molly McArthur. "Today is like the domino effect. We open this one, we close that one, and the excavators can start working. So, this is a very big day for us."
The sun beamed as dogs roamed the spacious enclosures and socialized with one another. Equipped with shade structures and enhanced planting, the relocated dog park is now a social haven for eager dogs. If your dog is feeling a little lonely and seeking friends, this is the place.
Dog owners were equally excited about the new park.
"It’s 100 times better," said Jerry Herman, a Union City resident whose small dog was sporting a pink tutu. "It’s physically nicer. It’s clean and the ground is smoother."
The new park, jointly sponsored by BART and the City of Fremont, is larger than the previous one and includes separate areas for large and small dogs. It also has perimeter walkways, benches, water fountains with pet bowls and lighting for evening use. It is a 15-minute walk from the park to the existing Fremont BART Station.
The Warm Springs project is a 5.4-mile BART extension south from the Fremont BART Station into the Warm Springs District of Fremont. There may also be an optional station in the Irvington District, depending on future funding through the City of Fremont.
The Warm Springs Station will feature an at-grade island platform with access to Valley Transit Authority (VTA), Alameda- Contra Costa Transit (AC Transit) buses, taxis, and “kiss and ride” passenger drop-off areas. The new station will also feature more than 2,000 new parking spaces. Like all BART stations, the new extension will be fully accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists and will include bike lockers, elevators and escalators, and access for the disabled.
The total budget for the Warm Springs Extension is $890 million. The construction officially began in the summer of 2009, and BART hopes to have the station running in 2014. BART has also taken care to address environmental issues such as habitat and species protection, noise and vibration impacts, tree removal and replacement, and wetlands and water protection.
According to the American Public Transportation Association’s economic stimulus formula, the new construction has created and supported 26,700 direct and indirect jobs. The Warm Springs Extension also includes the construction of two ventilation structures and the relocation of a number of amenities within Fremont Central Park, including the dog park, basketball and tennis courts, and related parking.
Annabell Holland, the Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Fremont, described the ultimate benefit for the Warm Springs Extension: “Being able to connect us to San Jose and the opportunity for us to open an Irvington BART Station, because we really are an extension of Silicon Valley.”
For more information on the Warm Springs Extension Project, go to www.bart.gov/wsx.