For people involved in this construction, it's a major milestone. Tiffany West is one of about 500 construction workers on the project. From her perch atop the concrete pylons, she says she often thinks about the riders aboard the Air BART buses that the Air Train will be replacing in two years. "I think that this is going to make their lives so much easier. They don't have to stand out and wait on the streets for the bus. They can just get right on the train and get there in five minutes less," she says.
She is also one of more than 100 local workers who are employed on this project. The major milestone is a steel truss installed this week. It's 300 feet of rail and each night, more will be installed, rounding out the 3.2-mile stretch from the BART station to the Oakland Airport Station.
Costing a little more than $480 million, this is a capital project that met with fierce opposition and lawsuits. "The BART extender was a perfect example of the priorities of those who can afford airlines tickets over those who can afford bus tickets," Rev. Scott Denman tells ABC7 News. Opponents like Denman have long said that projects like this, cutting right through East Oakland, do not directly benefit the residents of East Oakland.
West, who lives in San Leandro, says she's excited to be part of a system that will be in service for a long time. "My child gets to look at it, and his children. So, I'm glad that I'm a part of something that's going to last, you know, for a long time in the city," she says.
The project is supposed to be completed by 2014. Designers say the Air Trains should make it between the BART station and Oakland Airport in 8 to 15 minutes. A ticket to ride will be priced between $4 and $6. Right now, it takes Air BART buses about 15 minutes to do the run at $3 each way.