The past two weeks have marked not one, but two monumentous groundbreakings for BART and Contra Costa County commuters. The Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) was inaugurated last week and today BART broke ground on the East Contra Costa Bart Extension (eBART) which will extend BART access to eastern Contra Costa County.
Both of the controversial extensions were able to overcome opposition and will in turn stimulate the local economy. Estimates vary, but the two projects are expected to create anywhere from several hundred to several thousand new jobs over the course of the next five years.
The OAC, a $484 million, 3.2 mile automated people mover will connect the Oakland Coliseum BART Station to the Oakland international Airport. On November 1st, BART will give contractors official notice to proceed, at which point they will have 30 days to deliver their plans for moving forward with construction. Utility relocation will begin shortly thereafter, with construction set to begin in early 2011.
The $462 million, ten mile eBART extension will extend the Pitsburg /Bay Point terminus to a new station on Hillcrest Ave. in Antioch. The extension will accompany Caltrans’ expantion of Highway 4 from four to six and eight lanes. The new BART line will be constructed in the median of the new Highway 4 construction and is expected to carry the equivilant of one additional lane worth of commuters.
“For those who sit in traffic every day in this corridor, it’s clear that we need major improvements to address the growth in East Contra Costa County,” said Bijan Sartipi, Caltrans’ Region 4 Director
Due to financial constraints, the extension will use Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technology but BART and local officials haven’t ruled out the possibility of converting to the traditional system should funds become available in the future.
Construction is expected to start late this year or in early 2011 and BART hopes to have both extensions operational by 2015