Antioch Council joins Oakley, Brentwood in endorsing cheaper, innovative rail line

Rendering of a proposed CyberTran transit station. Courtesy CyberTran International, Inc.

Moves Sand Creek new home area forward; approves cameras for high-crime area of E. 18th Street and Cavallo Road

By Dave Roberts

The Antioch City Council on Tuesday joined the city councils in Oakley and Brentwood in endorsing an innovative rail transit system that could extend the East County eBART line through far East County at significantly less cost.

The ultra-light rail transit (ULRT) system by a private company, CyberTran International (whose investors include a company partially owned by Antioch Herald publisher Allen Payton), is seeking funding to demonstrate the viability of the system on a track in Richmond, and then to roll out the above ground line possibly in East County connecting the Hillcrest eBART Station to stations in Oakley, Brentwood, Discovery Bay and the Byron Airport.

The eBART line now under construction from the Bay Point BART Station with stations at Railroad Avenue in Pittsburg and Hillcrest in Antioch costs $56 million per mile, CyberTran President Dexter Vizinau told the council. His ULRT system would cost about $30 million per mile and have the advantages of providing more stations, perhaps at shopping centers, and provide cars that would go nonstop from any station along the line.

“The problem is that [traditional] transit is too costly to build, operate and maintain,” Vizinau said. “There is a $78 billion backlog in transit maintenance in the country. The only way to pay is to raise taxes. Something has to change and it has to be innovative. We believe we solve that problem.”

Vizinau cited the support of U.C. Berkeley, and the three national labs, in the development of the CyberTran system. He also held up a letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation stating the system was further along technologically than any other innovative transit system in the country.

Mayor Sean Wright noted that few Antioch residents are likely to use the system. “It doesn’t affect Antioch – we’re done and through,” he said. But it does have the potential of reducing traffic from far East County residents on Highway 4 through Antioch, which pleased Council Member Lori Ogorchock. “Anything to reduce traffic and congestion,” she said.

Vizinau said his company has been working on the project for 23 years and is ready to break ground. The main challenge is finding the funding. A 10-mile ULRT line from Hillcrest Station to Brentwood would cost about $300 million.

The company was set to receive $42.9 million from the county’s Measure X half-cent sales tax hike that fell three percentage points short of passing in November, he said. Another tax-hike attempt could be made in two years, he said.

The council unanimously voted to support the project and the company’s efforts to obtain funding, which was a bit of déjà vu as the Antioch Council passed a similar resolution of support seven years ago for the project. That effort was successful in obtaining $15 million in federal funds for innovative transit in the U.S. But, President Obama failed to release the funds before he left office in January, Vizinau said.

Sand Creek Focus Area

In other action, the council listened to concerns from residents opposed to the proposed Sand Creek Focus Area, which updates the city’s General Plan to accommodate as many as 4,000 homes on 2,781 acres surrounding Sand Creek in south Antioch. The area is bordered by homes on the north, Black Diamond Mines park on the west, the city limits on the south and Brentwood on the east.

Residents and environmental groups told the council that the proposal contains too many homes, not enough open space, that it will further burden local schools, roads and police services, and that there hasn’t been enough community input into the proposal.

Council members noted that the plan focuses on land use zoning, and that its approval is not equivalent to approval of actual residential development, which would have to be done separately. Over 1,200 homes have already been approved in the area.

The next step in the proposal is conducting environmental impact studies in the coming months, which would then be reviewed during a public hearing by the Planning Commission.

18th Street at Cavallo Road Cameras

The council also approved $156,412 to place police surveillance cameras at the intersection of East 18th Street and Cavallo Road, which has been the scene of a recent shooting.

Interim Police Chief Tammany Brooks said that installation of cameras in another high-crime area, the Sycamore corridor, in November have been effective. Council Member Tony Tiscareno, who lives near Sycamore, agreed that police sirens have become less frequent in recent months.

A resident who lives near Cavallo and 18th teared up as she thanked the council for putting in the cameras, saying she’s seen drug activity on that corner and that her husband witnessed a drive-by shooting.

Water Upgrade

The council members voted to spend nearly $3.3 million to eliminate use of ammonia and chlorine in the city’s water treatment plant. Those chemicals have been deemed hazardous and highly corrosive, according to Project Manager Scott Buenting.

Affordable  Housing Progress Report

The council also approved the filing of a state-mandated housing progress report. The state has mandated that it provide over the next six years an additional 1,448 housing units with 349 of them for very low-income households, 205 low-income units, 214 moderate-income units and 680 units for above moderate-income households.

Last year 42 building permits were issued – 41 of them for above moderate-income single-family homes and one for multifamily apartments providing 84 extremely low-income units. Ogorchock noted, “We’re not reaching the goals we’re supposed to be reaching.” The developer of a proposed 126-unit affordable housing project on Wilbur Avenue complained that city fees have made it too expensive for the project to go forward.

the attachments to this post:

CyberTran station

17 Comments to “Antioch Council joins Oakley, Brentwood in endorsing cheaper, innovative rail line”

  1. Peggy Vertin says:

    The one measely under-planned e-BART station for Antioch is a joke. The entire e-BART system they planned for East County was a joke. Why didn’t you start with just to go to Pittsburg BART? East County Residents have paid so much money for NOTHING, absolutely nothing. IT is going to be barely BART in Antioch with one station in the most unsafe part of town with that horrible parking lot. I, for one, will not be leaving my vehicle to be ruined in the sun there. YOU JERKS. RIP OFF! EVERYONE WHO WORKED ON THIS BART PROJECT SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES FOR RAPING THE TAXPAYERS.

    • Publisher says:

      Ms. Vertin,
      The CyberTran system is not BART or eBART. It’s a completely different system, that’s both electric and costs less to build and operate than either of those two systems.
      The plan is to be the system of choice as the extension from the Hillcrest eBART Station to serve Oakley, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay and the Byron Airport and be done much quicker than if we wait for BART to extend eBART further into East County.
      As for a ferry system, there is no money to either pay for the vehicles or even a station in Antioch. But, there are plans and efforts to make that a reality, some day.
      Allen Payton, Publisher

      • Loretta Sweatt says:

        Do people use Amtrac for work or is it too slow? I’m wondering why Amtrac isn’t mentioned as used a lot for commuters? or is it?

  2. Peggy Vertin says:

    Antioch should be looking at alternatives to BART period. Going downtown to catch the Ferry is much easier than going to Sunset to get shot at while trying to ride e-BART to transfer. I can’t wait until these poor people have to transfer in the rain and wind at those crappy stations you built.

  3. Marty Fernandez says:

    Not this again Allen!

    • Publisher says:

      What’s your challenge with using a lower cost, electric system than either BART or eBART?
      This isn’t “again.” It’s part of a continued effort to obtain the needed funding to make it happen.
      Unfortunately, it won’t be done in time to be the system of choice from Pittsburg to Antioch.
      But, it can be the system from the Hillcrest Avenue eBART Station east to serve Oakley, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay and the Byron Airport, and possibly to Mountain House, Tracy, Livermore and Pleasanton, as well.
      Allen Payton, Publisher

      • Dan Brenner says:

        Mr. Payton:

        Could you please clarify as much as possible what you are referring to by an extension to Mountain House?

        This is a very delicate (but amazing) issue, which I would like to find out more about (possibly could you do a significant article on this without sacrificing anything confidential or ?)

        There is a very significant effort within the State relating to connecting Mountain House to ACE, and even possibly (or certainly) BART as well.

        Again, all of what I could cite is very delicate and preliminary, but to hear you mention Mountain House in this context relating to what Mr. Vizinau is proposing, is also something very near and dear to my heart, as I did a cocktail napkin type drawing of an idea about something similar several years ago in relation to High Speed Rail and ACE and BART and to hear you mention Mountain House is, simply, mind-blowing.

        • Allen Payton says:

          Mr. Brenner,
          Thank you for your question and interest. I am responding to you in my capacity with our company, eTranzUSA, Inc., which is working to raise the private capital for CyberTran, rather than as the Publisher of the Herald.

          There is a plan called TriLink, which includes the Counties of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Alameda, and the four cities in East County, as well as Tracy and Livermore, plus the communities of Discovery Bay, Byron and Mountain House, and transportation agencies, to bring a four-lane freeway and two lines of transit between East County and Tracy to connect Highway 4 with I-5 and I-205/580. You can learn more about it, here:

          Our company would like to have CyberTran be the sytem of choice for that route. We are also interested in having CyberTran be the system of choice for the BART extension from Pleasanton to Livermore. But, whatever system is used from Tri Valley to Tracy and Mountain House, our plans to link the end of the eBART line in Antioch to Byron Airport could be extended to connect to whatever system is chosen for Mountain House and Tracy.

          We believe the CyberTran is superior to the current BART, eBART or ACE Train systems, due to its construction and operation costs per mile, and the solar-powered, electric, autonomous vehicles, which can take passengers directly to their destination

          I’m happy to discuss this with you further. I will email you from my business email address.

          Allen Payton, CEO

  4. Loretta Sweatt says:

    I have to say I agree with Peggy. EBart is ridiculously pathetic and I feel sorry for the people who use it. BART wastes so much money on salaries, that there is nothing left to fix the trains, tracks, or build extensions. Seems to me like most of BART’s money goes in somebody’s pocket and not on equipment or progress. It’s funny how the equipment, maintenance, and new tracks are always too expensive, but nothing else is. What’s that about??? How about some “balanced” spending for once in our lifetime?

  5. Loretta Sweatt says:

    I’m glad to hear of the Security Cameras and maybe more of those. It might be a good idea to pass some more City Ordinances that would get to the root of preventing crime in our city. Maybe it’s possible to ask for a Task Force for the highest crime areas? Maybe we have to do more and perhaps push the envelope and see how much we can do to insure that Antioch is the Most Beautiful and Most Safe City in California. What more can be done to achieve that goal? It’s a tough question?

  6. Marty Fernandez says:

    We do not need more city ordinances Ms. Sweatt. What we need is for the ordinances we have now to be ENFORCED. Antioch closes a blind eye to violations every minute of every day.

    • Loretta Sweatt says:

      I didn’t know that Marty and I haven’t heard of that. What ordinances or violations does Antioch close a blind eye to? I just hadn’t heard that said before.

      • Skip says:

        Go to any bridge or underpass and look at the encampments. Im pretty sure that there are ordinances against setting up camp on public property, but Antioch allows them to grow and grow until they catch on fire or someone gets killed. Then theyll come in bus out tons of trash and let them setup camp a half mile away to start again. If they provided services and were proactive about not allowing tent cities, the city would be cleaner and safer. Dont know why they wont enforce this one. Marty us right, we dont need more rules, we need the city to do their job.

        • Loretta Sweatt says:

          Ok thanks, yes I see your point. I’d rather see a city employee out cleaning up trash and enforcing codes rather than sitting behind a desk pushing paper or on the internet.

      • Marty Fernandez says:

        Drive around town any day of the week and you will see codes not enforced. Cars in front yards, wrecked cars on street or in front yards. Boats and R/V’s not allowed unless you got one of the original permits years ago. Trash cans on street more than 24 hours and not put behind fences like the ordinance says. Signs posted all over town against the sign ordinance. Trash piled high in peoples yards. Weeds higher than your calf level. Want me to keep going? Some houses around here are fire traps for all the junk allowed to pile up.

        • Loretta Sweatt says:

          Thanks Marty, yes I see that, I think two code enforcement people are maybe not enough? Anyways, I get it.

  7. F. Wikman says:

    Hello, I must have your current input about this. Please email me straight away:

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