In November 2010, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) started the extension of its regional railway route in the eastern part of Contra Costa County, California, US. The project is called the East Contra Costa County extension (eBART).
The BART train network serves the San Francisco Bay by connecting the Peninsula, East Bay towns and the Oakland and San Francisco international airports.
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) projects the entire Bay Area residential population to grow by about 2 million, which is a 34% increase from the 2000 census figures, and to have an additional 1.5 million jobs by 2035.
The $462m project will relieve congestion on the Highway 4 corridor in East County. It will also provide an economical and convenient alternative mode of transport. The railway line will reduce the travel time between the two cities to ten minutes and the auto travel by 340,000 miles per day.
BART has been working on several railway projects to serve the growing regions. In April 2009, the BART board approved $1bn for the transit expansion projects, including eBART.
Other projects include Central Contra Costa County Crossover Extension, Warm Springs Extension, Livermore Extension, Santa Clara County Extension and the Oakland Airport Connector.
The eBART project will complement the widening of the Highway 4 from four to six lanes, which will be completed in 2015 along with the eBART extension. The railway line is expected to carry the same number of commuters as that of the Highway 4 freeway.
eBART line route
eBART is a 16km railway line extension from Pittsburg at Bay Point BART Station to the City of Antioch at east of Hillcrest Avenue. The tracks will pass through the Highway 4 median. Future plans also include its extension of the line to Oakley, Brentwood and Byron in Contra Costa County. The additional three-mile eBART line is expected to increase the passenger numbers by 40%.
The eBART line will be served by three stations – the improved Pittsburg / Bay Point Station, a new station at Hillcrest Avenue and a Railroad Avenue Station, a new intermediate station in Pittsburg. The stations will have multimodal access for Tri Delta transit buses, pedestrians and cyclists.
The infrastructure will not prevent the conventional BART services in future. The Pittsburg and Antioch cities have prepared Ridership Development Plans (RDPs), which will help in establishing future eBART stations.
The eBART railway extension will use diesel multiple unit (DMU) technology trains. The DMUs are new to BART. They are smaller in size than the regular BART trains and have wide windows, level boarding and more comfortable seats.
The DMUs are considered to be more efficient than the conventional BART train technology. They also consume less petroleum and emit less greenhouse gases. The ultra-low sulphur fuels for trains are expected to reduce emissions by 260,000lb per day. The two-car train can carry 300 to 400 people at speeds of about 75mph.
The project with regular BART trains was estimated to cost over $1bn. The DMU costs 60% less. LTK Engineering Services has done the feasibility study for the introduction of DMU technology.
The feasibility study for the line extension was conducted by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and BART in 2002. The environmental review was completed in 2005. The final detailed design and project development phase began in 2009.
Construction work on the East Contra Costa County BART extension began in October 2010. It is schedule for completion in 2015. The eBART project is expected to generate about 600 jobs during construction. When fully operational, it will also create about 80 permanent jobs.
Construction contracts for eBART are divided into five packages – the transfer platform and guideway project at the Bay Point station, vehicles contract, maintenance facility and Hillcrest parking lot, Hillcrest station construction between 2012 and 2014, and the track work and systems installation completion by the end of 2014.
In October 2010, West Bay Builders was awarded a $26m contract for improving the rail network and building the transfer platform at the Bay Point station.
The improvements will enable extension of the railway line to the terminus station at Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch. The contract for the DMU trains will be awarded through a tendering process in the first half of 2011.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission funded $283m (60% of the total) for the eBART project. The project is being constructed with the support of Oakley, Antioch, Brentwood, Pittsburg cities, Contra Costa County, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Tri Delta Transit, CCTA and TRANSPLAN.