Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Supervisors prepare for PG&E power shutoff during Tuesday meeting

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors proclaimed October 6 through 12 as National 4-H Week throughout the county. Supervisors encouraged citizens to recognize 4-H for the “significant impact it has made and continues to make by empowering youth with the skills they need to lead for a lifetime.” 4-H has helped 3,159 youth in Contra Costa County to become leaders. The University of California Cooperative Extension delivers the program in California. National 4-H Week showcases the experiences that 4-H offers youth. Attending Tuesday’s resolution presentation were from left, West Contra Costa County 4H Director Jen Komaroni, Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond, District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, eight year 4H member Delanie Sheridan, District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, seven year 4H member Brodie Emmons of Brentwood, fifth year 4H member Emily Tavers of Brentwood, Briones 4H Director Paula McCauley, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis, Brentwood 4H Director Julie Carter, University of California Cooperative Extension Director for Alameda and Contra Costa Bob Bennaton and Vice Chair Candace Andersen. Photo by Daniel Borsuk

Approve MOU for Route 239 in East County to connect Brentwood to Tracy; $2.1 Million for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

By Daniel Borsuk

Potentially facing the first-ever utility-induced electric power shutdown in parts of Contra Costa County, members of the Board of Supervisors discharged a barrage of questions on Tuesday about the preparedness of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District in handling potential emergencies during what could be a power shutdown lasting several days.

At the end, Supervisors learned CCCFPD is ready to handle whatever might come down from a PG&E power shutdown.

Supervisors relayed their concerns about the CCCFPD’s fire emergency readiness at Tuesday’s fire district meeting where supervisors also serve as the fire district’s fiscal and policymaking entity.

PG&E revealed plans on Tuesday it would intentionally shut down power serving Rossmoor and parts of the Lafayette-Moraga-Orinda areas on Wednesday, due to high winds and concerns the winds could knock down power lines sparking a fire. The power shutoff could last through Friday or longer depending on weather conditions.

CCCFPD Chief Lewis Broschard III forecast one-third of Rossmoor or 4,000 to 5,000 residents could be potentially harmed by a power outage. Many elderly residents living in senior housing don’t have backup electric generators, he said.

“We’re looking at longer response times due to traffic tie ups,” the chief said. This will require having equipment and personnel strategically located ahead of potential emergencies.

Broschard acknowledged that the fire district has encountered a roadblock in obtaining state pre-position funding.

When Chief Broschard informed supervisors that the district’s newly built Fire Station 16 in Lafayette will be officially opened on Wednesday, Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen, whose District 2 covers most of the areas PG&E has identified will have power shut off observed “We might not have power tomorrow to dedicate the station.”

Chief Broschard said the district recently accepted delivery of its newest bulldozer, the district’s second bulldozer that will provide district extra firefighting power in what has been “a quiet fire season” up to this point in time.

In other business, supervisors unanimously approved their 2020 schedule consisting of 30 meetings. Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville has already been elected chair for next year and District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood has been elected vice chair for 2020.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors designated the second week of October as Code Enforcement Officer Appreciation Week in Contra Costa County on Tuesday. Supervisors recognized the work and dedication of code enforcement officers, of which there are five in the county. “You’re our unsung heroes<” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff who acknowledged “We’ve recently have had some problems in the Pleasant Hill Barea area.” Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg remarked “The work you do is unappreciated. That’s mostly because the cases are complaint driven.” The supervisors’ resolution states “Contra Costa County wants to recognize and honor our Code Enforcement Officers that serve our community and acknowledge their role in leading the way to improve quality of life within our communities.” Photo by Daniel Borsuk

Supervisors also approved as consent items:

MOU for Route 239 in East County

An amended and restated Memorandum of Understanding between the county and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority concerning the development and federal funding for State Route 239 Project in the Byron area. There were no public speakers concerning the $17.6 million project, $14 million in federal funding and $3.6 million in Local Road Fund.

$2.1 Million for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Supervisors approved a $2,099,274 contract for the California Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for the period of Oct. 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021. The grant is funded with federal money through the California Department of Community Services and Development.

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Two streets in Antioch’s northeast industrial area to close to public beginning Thursday

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

By Antioch Police Department

Effective Thursday, September 19, 2019 both Wilbur Lane and Wymore Way will be closed to through traffic. Wilbur Lane will only have gated access to the warehouse complex and businesses from the Wilbur Lane side, and Wymore Way is to be closed permanently.

“It’s being done by the property owners to help prevent crime from occurring in the complex,” said Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks.

“Wilbur Lane and Wymore are both private streets,” added City Manager Ron Bernal.

This has long been a popular thoroughfare for persons getting from East 18th Street to Wilbur Avenue. Due to this closure, everyone is cautioned and should now use alternate routes between these two roadways. Alternate routes include A Street, Cavallo Road, Hillcrest Avenue, and Viera Avenue. The highlighted areas in green show alternate routes and the red show the closed roadways. Please see the map above.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Weekend BART delays between Orinda and Walnut Creek 8/17-18, bus bridge, and Highway 24 lane closures

Friday, August 9th, 2019

There will be no single-tracking or track closures due to this project for the weekend of August 10-11.  However, there will be overnight lane closures on eastbound Highway 24 near the Lafayette Station.  You can get more details here. The first weekend track shutdown between Orinda and Walnut Creek stations is scheduled for the weekend of August 17-18.

We are making extensive repairs and upgrades to the track between Orinda and Walnut Creek stations on most weekends through October, including some upcoming full weekend closures with bus bridges.   Using Measure RR funds, we’ll be replacing track and electrical equipment, installing new switches, improving station platforms, and making other repairs and improvements to provide more reliable, safer, quieter, smoother and faster service.

Closure weekends: 8/17-18, 8/31-9/2 (Labor Day Weekend), 9/14-15, 9/28-29, 10/12-13, 10/26-27

Riders should expect delays of 40 minutes or more on closure weekends.

County Connection and AC Transit will provide free shuttle bus services:

  1.    Direct service between Orinda and Walnut Creek
  2.   Service between Orinda, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek stations.

Single-Tracking
Single-tracking on some Saturdays will mean delays of up to 30 minutes. Please plan your trip with that in mind. We will single-track on 7/27, 8/3, 8/24, 9/7, 9/21, and 10/19.  We may need to turn back some trains at Orinda to maintain our schedule. If so, you will be asked to leave the train you are on and board a different train to reach your destination.

Highway 24 Lane Closures

On select weekends including single-tracking Saturdays, we plan to close the two eastbound lanes on the far-left side of Highway 24 near the Lafayette Station and Oak Hill Road to allow equipment and material to be placed near and in our tracks. The next lane closure is scheduled for 11 pm Friday August 9 and will continue until 7 am Saturday August 10.  The two eastbound lanes of 24 will also be closed Saturday August 10 at 11pm until 9 am Sunday August 11.

Lane closures for single-tracking Saturdays will only happen during overnight hours from 11 pm Friday to 7 am Saturday and 11pm Saturday to 9 am Sunday.  All lane closures will happen near the Lafayette Station at Oak Hill Road.

Night Work

We will also do work at night after service closes on weeknights through at least the end of October.

Sunday single tracking in San Francisco

On select Sundays through the rest of this year, there will be single-track service between the Embarcadero and 24th Street Mission stations in downtown San Francisco due to electrical cabling replacement work.  This replacement project is critical to ensure our trains can count on a reliable power supply. The work can add 15-30 minutes to your trip. Get the latest on this project here.

Use the Trip Planner, call the BART Transit Information Center at (510) 465-BART (2278), or get the Official BART app to plan your trip.

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Please tell CCTA: East County needs freeway from Brentwood to Tracy for long term economic growth

Monday, August 5th, 2019

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is holding Telephone Town Hall Meetings to inform the public of the Initial Draft 2020 Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) and get their input before finalizing the plan and placing another tax measure on the March 2020 ballot to fund it. The meeting for East County will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 8 (see previous post on this website, below)

The plan (www.ccta.net/theplan) currently has a total price tag of $3.061 billion and the tax is in addition to the county’s current half-cent sales tax for transportation from Measure J, which voters approved in 2004 and expires in 2034. The new tax would last until 2050. The CCTA attempted to pass a similar additional half-cent sales tax in 2016, known as Measure X, but it failed. The only new section of roadway in the entire county in that plan was the $117 million “limited access” connector between Vasco Road and the Byron Highway, next to the Byron Airport. Voters overwhelmingly voted against the measure and it failed.

Fortunately, that project was included in the Regional Measure 3 expenditure plan which did pass. But, RM3 didn’t include the long-planned Route 239, the proposed four-lane freeway between Brentwood and Tracy, which will connect East County to Interstate 5, the economic lifeblood artery of the state.

That road has been on the books for over 60 years. But, planning for it only began in 2013 as part of what was known as the TriLink Project, as it crossed the three counties of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and a sliver of Alameda, and was to also include two lines of transit down the middle, connecting the end of the BART line in East County to Tracy.

However, the TriLink Project website is no longer active and neither the four-lane freeway nor the transit lines are included in Contra Costa County’s plans for the next 30 years.

Yet, it’s Route 239 that will ensure East County’s long-term economic viability, allowing current businesses, including agriculture, to get their products to market quicker. Plus, it will open up our area for greater local job creation, and complete what I refer to as the beltway around Mt. Diablo, eliminating the cul-de-sac effect with the three two-lane roads connecting us to the east and south.

Antioch and East County have the freight rail connecting us to the east and west, plus the river connecting us to the world, to move goods. But we only have Highway 4 and BART connecting us to the west for moving people and goods.

Central County folks oppose Route 239 saying it will “induce growth in East County.” But they’ve been saying that for almost 50 years about every new road improvement, including the Hwy 4 Bypass/extension, which we had to fight for over four years from 1994-98 to just get approvals, not any money. In fact, it was that same mindset that prevented Hwy 24 from being extended to East County back in the 1970’s and the result is a surface road with the three names of Ygnacio Valley Road, Kirker Pass and Railroad Avenue, today.

I grew up in Walnut Creek and moved to Antioch because it was more affordable. In fact out of all us who attended the 35th reunion of the Northgate High School Class of ’81 in 2016, only four classmates still lived in Walnut Creek. Where did many move to? East County. So, as I said to my fellow elected officials when I was on a panel during a transportation conference back in the late 1990’s when I was serving on the Antioch City Council and Contra Costa Transportation Authority, don’t blame us for the growth. They had kids and we needed somewhere to live that we could afford. That was East County we were pushing for funding and approvals for Highway 4 widening and the Highway 4 bypass/extension. We received it and those projects are now completed.

It’s time we completed the transportation infrastructure in East County and Route 239 is a key part of it.

Besides, that road won’t induce residential growth. We have the Urban Limit Line to control that. But it will induce economic growth with more local jobs, which is what East County needs.

We need both Route 239 and the transit link between Antioch and Tracy. But, for now, let’s push for funds for the freeway to be included in the county’s new plan. Estimates are it will cost an additional $1 billion. I say add it to the total and let the voters decide.

We need bold leadership from our local elected officials and the voice of “we the people” to make it happen.

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Transportation authority to hold Telephone Tall Hall meeting for public input on tax measure Wed., Aug. 8

Monday, August 5th, 2019

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Supervisors seek members for Independent Oversight Committee for the Regional Measure 3 bridge toll increase

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

In 2018, voters passed Regional Measure 3 (RM3) which increased bridge tolls in the Bay Area and also established an Independent Oversight Committee. Each of 9 Bay Area counties appoint two members to the Committee. The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is seeking two members of the public to serve.

The RM3 Independent Oversight Committee (oversight committee) will be established by the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) pursuant to Senate Bill 595 (which placed RM 3 on the ballot). The purpose of the Oversight Committee is to ensure that any toll revenues generated pursuant to the RM3 toll increase are expended consistent with the applicable requirements of the RM3 expenditure plan set forth in Streets and Highways Code Section 30914.7. The Oversight Committee shall annually review the expenditure of funds by BATA for the projects and programs specified in Section 30914.7 and prepare and submit a report to the transportation committee of each house of the Legislature summarizing its findings.

An individual interested in serving on the Committee must be a resident of Contra Costa County and meet the Streets and Highways Code Section 30923 (h) (3) restrictions below:

  • A representative appointed to the oversight committee shall not be a member, former member, staff, or former staff of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) or BATA.
  • A representative appointed to the oversight committee shall not be employed by any organization or person that has received or is receiving funding from MTC or BATA.
  • A representative appointed to the oversight committee shall not be a former employee or a person who has contracted with any organization or person that has received or is receiving funding from MTC or BATA within one year of having worked for or contracted with that organization or person.

The RM3 Oversight Committee is subject to open public meetings (The Brown Act). Meeting dates, frequency, and length of meetings will be established by the members of the committee. The location of meetings will be in San Francisco at the Bay Area Metro Center. BATA anticipates a stipend to members for meeting attendance. The term length for representatives is four years, and each representative is limited to two terms.

Applications are available online at https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418 or by contacting the Clerk of the Board’s Office at (925) 335-1900 or clerkoftheboard@cob.cccounty.us. Completed applications are due by 5 PM on August 9, 2019, and may be completed and submitted online, emailed to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, mailed or submitted to 651 Pine Street, Room 106, Martinez, CA 94553.

 

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Transportation authority awarded $755,000 to plan future transit between Antioch and Brentwood

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

CalTrans Sustainable Communities Planning Grant

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) won a Caltrans SB1 Sustainable Communities Planning Grant valued at $755,000 to support a study that will evaluate new transit options between the cities of Antioch and Brentwood in East Contra Costa County.

The East County Integrated Transit Study will guide the development of a plan for providing fast, frequent, high-capacity transit connections between Antioch and Brentwood that will directly integrate with existing local and regional services such as the Antioch BART station and Tri Delta Transit local bus service. The study will also look at improving connections to Capitol Corridor and ACE rail services, as well as proposed future ferry service between Antioch and Martinez. As part of its commitment to sustainable communities, CCTA will focus on new, zero-emission public transit options for potential outcomes of the study.

“Now that Highway 4 has been modernized to improve access to Eastern Contra Costa, I am pleased that we were successful in obtaining these funds to plan for a future that provides more transportation options to support economic growth and mobility for our residents,” says California Assemblymember Jim Frazier.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to harness new transit technology that can integrate with existing systems to create a smart, efficient network that easily connects people to their desired destinations,” explains CCTA Executive Director Randell Iwasaki. “This grant will enable us to expedite a much-needed study that will guide valuable transit improvements for Eastern Contra Costa County.”

“CCTA is a forward-looking organization,” states Bob Taylor, Mayor of Brentwood and Contra Costa Transportation Authority Board Chair. “I’ve always predicted a bright future for Eastern Contra Costa County and this grant win lays the foundation for the communities along Highway 4 to connect, grow, and prosper.”

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BART Board approves $2.3 billion budget prioritizing safety and quality of life

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Will hire 19 more police officers, four fare inspectors

The BART Board of Directors has approved a $2.3 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) which begins July 1, 2019. The budget focuses on expanding and investing in Quality of Life issues, including the addition of 19 police officers and four unarmed fare inspectors.

“This budget is designed to make BART safer,” said BART Board President Bevan Dufty. “Adding officers and establishing a community ambassador program shows our riders that we’ve heard their concerns and we’ve taken action.”

Quality of Life

Including funds added in FY20, since FY14 BART has spent $59 million on new budget initiatives addressing Quality of Life challenges in the areas of safety, fare evasion prevention, cleanliness and homelessness. The FY20 budget supplements and continues Quality of Life initiatives added in prior years. Among the highlights:

  • $2.1 million towards 19 additional police officers.
  • $500,000 to fund four additional fare inspectors.
  • $2 million to continue funding efforts to address the impacts of regional homelessness in the BART system, including outreach programs, elevator attendants and Pit Stop restrooms.
  • BART station hardening efforts are incorporated into many projects and programs throughout the District, using operating and capital funds. In FY20, $2.4 million of new and ongoing funds ($400,000 of new FY20 operating funds augments $600,000 of prior year parking revenue held in reserves and $1.3 million of capital staffing) will support station hardening projects, including raising railings and securing swing gates. Additionally, BART directs grant funds to station hardening, including federal formula funds for the fare gate modification program and often redirects existing engineering and maintenance staff to projects such as the fare gate cinch modification program as well as the camera upgrade program. BART’s Station Modernization Program also incorporates elements of station hardening in design, guided by the BART Facilities Standards. Six stations in the Station Modernization Program are spending or will spend a combined $16 million on station hardening elements. In addition, the $61 million Market Street Escalator Canopies project includes installing roll-up grilles at the street level, security cameras and handrail lighting. In summary, station hardening is a substantial, multi-year systemwide effort, leveraging new and existing operating and capital funds from a variety of sources into a wide range of projects.

System reinvestment

The new budget dedicates $1.4 billion for capital programs, a 5% increase from FY19 with the largest portion (46%) coming from Measure RR funds. The use of Measure RR funding for FY20 is increasing as projects anticipate moving from design and pre-engineering to construction. Most of the capital budget (69%) is directed to reinvestment in the system. The use of previously awarded and current federal funds has increased as BART ramps up on train control modernization, state of good repair projects and continues the delivery of new rail cars. FY20 projects include:

  • $101 million for station modernization and elevator/escalator improvements across the system, including replacement of escalators at downtown San Francisco stations, and station modernization efforts at El Cerrito Del Norte, 19th Street, Downtown Berkeley, Concord, Powell, and Pittsburg/Bay Point stations. The station modernization program also includes many elements of station hardening.
  • $303 million is budgeted for expenses related to the procurement of 775 new rail cars
  • $151 million towards the continuation of a multi-year program of traction power infrastructure replacement, including replacement of traction power cables in San Francisco and in Alameda County.
  • $71 million towards the Hayward Maintenance Complex, a modern facility to maintain the new rail cars.
  • $86 million for planning and engineering for the Train Control Modernization Program and for renewing components of the existing train control system, including transformers, switch machines and speed encoding equipment at stations.
  • Fare changes
  • A 5.4% inflation-based fare increase will take effect on January 1, 2020 as part of a program first approved by the BART Board in 2003 and renewed for a second series in 2013. This is the last of four biennial fare increases called for under the 2013 series. The BART Board also approved a third series of inflation-based fare increases that will go into effect in 2022, 2024 and 2026.  This latest series will follow the same inflation-based formula as the previous increases.
  • BART will participate in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Regional Means-Based Fare Discount Pilot Program. The program will offer a 20% discount per trip to adult riders earning 200% or less of the federal poverty level. The FY20 budget assumes one-half year of the pilot with an estimated revenue loss of $2 million after the MTC’s estimated offsetting annual contribution to BART of approximately $2 million.

Revenue and ridership challenges

The FY20 budget is balanced and includes $17 million in budget cuts made by all departments in the district.

Fare revenue is BART’s largest source of revenue, with $479 million of rail fare revenue forecast in FY20, a decrease of $5.6 million from FY19, reflecting a lower ridership forecast. Other operating revenue is forecast to be $10 million lower due to one-time revenues in FY19 not budgeted in FY20. These decreases are offset by increases in financial assistance, particularly sales taxes. Sales taxes are BART’s largest form of financial assistance budgeted at $277 million for FY20 a 3.2% growth over FY19

We take a conservative approach to projecting ridership for our FY20 budget. We are concerned about the length of this current economic expansion and the potential for a downturn in the future, which could impact ridership.

Service improvements

The budget includes funding for service enhancements that will ease crowding. Most notably, by February of 2020 we expect to have 160 Fleet of the Future train cars which will allow us to run all 10-car trains on the four Transbay routes. As we increase the number of Fleet of the Future cars, we will begin retiring legacy cars, which should increase reliability and reduce maintenance costs.

Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension fares

Along with approving the FY20 budget, the BART Board of Directors voted unanimously to establish a fare structure for the Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension.  BART’s existing distance-based fare structure will be used to calculate trip fares on the 10-mile extension from the Warm Springs/South Fremont Station to Berryessa Road in San Jose.  This is in accordance with the comprehensive agreement between BART and the Valley Transportation Authority.  The extension includes stops in Milpitas and Berryessa/North San Jose.

Ambassador program

Though not part of the FY20 budget, $500,000 in additional anticipated revenue from the FY19 budget will be set aside to fund an ambassador pilot program.  BART is in talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to seek matching funds for the program.

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