City and transit officials are gathering Thursday to celebrate progress on BART's new diesel-powered service into eastern Contra Costa County.
The East Contra Costa BART Extension, or eBART, is a $525 million project that will run 10 miles along Highway 4 from the Pittsburg/Bay Point station to two eBART stations in Pittsburg and Antioch.
BART spokesman Taylor Huckaby said the Pittsburg/Bay Point station parking lot fills up "to the brim" every morning.
"There's a lot of people that are moving out into the East Bay, and we want to connect them to the central BART system," he said. "We want to be able to get people to their jobs and where they need to go."
The new service will use diesel multiple-unit trains, or DMUs, which are smaller and less expensive than BART's conventional trains. The agency says eBART is expected to be ready for commuters by May 2018 and will make the 10-mile trip from Antioch to Pittsburg/Bay Point in 10 minutes. Passengers will be able to transfer there to BART's main line to Oakland, San Francisco and SFO.
"There's quite a bit of construction going on," said Huckaby. "There's a lot that's visible. You can see the walls of the new stations with the concrete etchings and the artwork that's been done there. So the project is pretty far along."
The eBART project is being built in coordination with a $56.1 million project to widen Highway 4 from four to eight lanes. The widening project includes room for the BART median and the construction of a pedestrian bridge to accommodate BART passengers.
"Mass transit reduces highway traffic, it's environmentally sustainable, it's efficient and it facilitates the Bay Area economy to the tune of tens of millions of dollars every single day," said Huckaby. "BART is eager to connect with the people of eastern Contra Costa, and we're looking forward to getting our trains moving over there."
The new station in Antioch will be located near Hillcrest Avenue. The new Pittsburg station will be located at Railroad Avenue.
The project was funded in part by Measure J, which put sales tax revenue toward a voter-approved transportation spending plan and was approved by Contra Costa County voters in 2004.
"The possibility of future extensions past Antioch is something that people have asked us to look into, and it's something they've expressed interest in supporting," said Huckaby. "So I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see voters putting mass transit on future ballots."
The celebration will take place from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the corner of Railroad Avenue and California Avenue in Pittsburg.