Final improvements underway to Highway 4

February 11, 2013 9:04:16 PM PST
Work is now underway on the final set of improvements to Highway 4 in East Contra Costa County -- an area plagued with massive traffic backups. The project widens the highway in two places from Pittsburg to Antioch and through Brentwood. The improvements also include expanding public transit in that area.

The stretch of dirt in the center of Highway 4 will one day have tracks on it carrying eBART passengers between Pittsburg and Antioch.

Completion of the line from Pittsburg-Bay Point 10 miles east to Hillcrest in Antioch is still four years away, but it's a beginning worth celebrating. East Contra Costa residents have been helping pay for BART, with nothing to show for it since it was first envisioned in 1958. That is truly a lifetime of waiting. Antioch Mayor Wade Harper was born in 1964.

"This means an improved quality of life for our area, it means economic development, it means police and fire getting there safer and expeditiously to save lives," said Harper.

"People out here have been paying for a long time. This is a long overdue, long-awaited, long-overdue rail extension," said BART Board Vice President Joel Keller.

A BART video shows how at the new platform, passengers will transfer between BART trains and the smaller, eBART trains. No fare gates, no barriers, just a 28-foot walk. The lighter eBART costs 60 percent less than regular BART trains.

"It really is kind of remarkable. It's been a lot of discussion, a lot of conversation, a lot of quarreling, but I think we're on our way to opening an extension that really makes sense for the region," said Keller.

eBART construction will really take off after 2015, when work on the final expansion projects along Highway 4 between Loveridge and Hillcrest will be completed. In addition to doubling the highway from two lanes to four in each direction, the major Loverdige Road interchange is also being expanded and upgraded.

"Smoother, faster, safer, more efficient," said Randell Iwasaki, the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority executive director.

For more than 20 years, transportation lagged behind rampant development in the area. The hope is these road and rail improvements will turn that equation around.


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