November 11, 2011 > O BART, BART, wherefore art thou BART?
O BART, BART, wherefore art thou BART?
A hole dug in Fremont's Central Park still scars the landscape but according to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officials, it will be just a memory within the next 12-18 months. BART personnel spoke to the Fremont City Council November 1, 2011 to report on progress of the extension of service between the existing Fremont Station, an Irvington station, Fremont/Warm Springs and future connections to Milpitas and San Jose.
BART Director Tom Blalock noted that "a lot of cooperative work" between Fremont City Council, staff, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, finance partners and BART to make this extension a reality. He called the project "a shot in the arm for the economy starting right here in the City of Fremont."
The initial phase of this ambitious project is the addition of 5.4 miles of new track that includes a mile-long subway beneath Central Park and a portion of Lake Elizabeth. This contract, awarded to Shimmick & Skanska (joint venture) for $137 million in 2009, is presently on schedule and within budget, approximately 75% complete. The estimated final completion date is the first quarter of 2013.
Hidden from public view, much of this construction was carefully planned in advance and before tunnel construction could even begin, removal and replacement of the Central Park dog park and basketball courts was necessary; both were completed June 2010. Much of the tunnel work has now been completed including diversion of Lake Elizabeth and crossing Mission Creek. It is expected that vegetation will be restored to the area in the fall of 2012. According to Marty Oatman, BART Construction Oversight Manager and Resident Engineer for the Subway Contract, as of the meeting date, approximately 80% of the "subway box" had been completed and the entire structure is expected to be finished as of the first or second quarter of 2012. Functional ventilation shafts are part of the final step in the process.
BART Project Manager of the Warm Springs Extension Paul A. Medved, P.E. spoke to the council saying, "A lot has happened since our last visit to council in May 2009." Support of the City, staff and public has been unwavering which he termed "amazing." The Warm Springs Station will be an "at grade center platform station with an overhead concourse." He added that an important consideration is to make sure an at-grade side platform Irvington Station with an overhead concourse can be added.
Previous construction of grade separations at Paseo Padre Parkway and Washington Boulevard has been a critical component of the BART extension. "It opened the door for the whole 16 miles of work being done right now plus, ultimately San Jose." Medved explained that "one of the major reasons for the long delay in coming back to the council is that we had a lot of work to do on the funding front." Current funding of "real money" totaling $767 million is now available from a variety of county and regional sources plus a BART agency contribution. Collection of these funds has allowed the award of a line/track/station/systems contract. A second tier of funding - $123 million - consists of future monies devoted to project reserve and vehicles. He explained that a BART extension requires additional vehicles to maintain the current density of service throughout the system.
A second phase of the extension project has now been awarded to Warm Springs Construction for $299 million and will involve a composite of design, construction of track and the Warm Springs Station including a parking lot as well as procurement and installation of transit systems and equipment. Station art will be developed to create a pleasing and compatible faŤade. Modifications of track and systems to include an Irvington Station will allow future development without excessive delay or cost if and when redevelopment funds become available for its construction.
Fremont Director of Public Works Jim Pierson noted that a window of opportunity still exists to construct the Irvington Station during the contract period but construction is contingent on rulings of the Supreme Court of California as it ponders the future of redevelopment agencies throughout the State. A ruling is expected in 2012. If, as is hoped, redevelopment will be allowed to continue, creation of a bond offering has already been crafted and can be marketed almost immediately.
The scope of work in Fremont to complete the extension to Warm Springs includes improvements and bridge work along the future BART path. One study underway is the method of providing an overpass from the existing BART station at Walnut Avenue. Due to the extensive and multiple modes of transit at this point (pedestrian, auto, bus), the design and disruption during construction poses a difficult problem.
The initial nine months of the second phase of the extension project will focus on design, documentation, pre-construction surveys and demolition. Duration of the entire contract which will eventually provide seamless connections to Warm Springs and future Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority construction of track through Milpitas and beyond to San Jose is expected to be 51 months. Revenue service to Warm Springs is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2015.
To hear the entire BART presentation to the Fremont City Council, visit www.fremont.gov and click on "agendas, minutes and webcasts" to find the webcast for November 1, 2011. Visit www.bart.gov for more information.