In 2017, commuters will be able to board a clean, diesel-fueled train at the eBART station at Highway 4 and Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch. From there it is a short, quick ride to the Pittsburg-Bay Point BART station. Once there, the rider will be able to walk across the platform to a waiting BART train to be wisked to farther destinations in Central Contra Costa, the East Bay and San Francisco.
But even before ground is broken for the Antioch station, planning is already under way for the eventual extension of eBART to Brentwood.
A similar line to Hercules is certainly a possibility. If the proposal came to me I would support it.
But keep in mind, these projects cost millions of dollars and take years to complete. A route would have to be determined, land needs to be bought and countless number of public hearings will be held.
Because of my positions on the Contra Costa Transit Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, I was able to bring attention to the plight of the East County commuter and help bring over a billion dollars to the Highway 4 and eBART projects. I would put that same effort into a Hercules line.
The eastern Contra Costa route has been made more complicated because of the concurrent construction associated with the widening of Highway 4.
Because of the enormous costs of building BART, if there would be a West county line, it would most likely take the form of lighter trains and narrower tracks similar to the eBART planned for East County. As we learned in East County, these trains would halve the cost of building a full-fledged BART line.
As our county continues to grow, alternative forms of transportation become more critical.
As we construct these transit projects that we hope will shorten our commute, in the wings are thousands of new homes waiting to be built by developers. These new homes are not speculation, they are a certainty.
Developers and cities already have thousands of new homes approved in Brentwood, Oakley, Antioch and Pittsburg. These new homes, approved before the mortgage mess when cities were living large because of new home fees, are already in the pipeline. Developers are just waiting for market conditions to improve before breaking ground.
With these new homes will come thousands of students impacting our schools and thousands of new commuters crowding onto our already stressed roadways and miles of new local streets to accommodate the new homeowners who in turn will become the new commuters.
Will the new Highway 4 improve the commute for East County drivers? It will -- at least, for awhile. Then the thousands of new residents will get in their cars to travel to their jobs in Central County, the East Bay and San Francisco and eventually, the roadway will be jammed again.
BART and eBARTwill take thousands of cars off the road; that is equivalent to building an extra lane on the freeway.
At best, it is estimated ferries will absorb only a few hundred drivers.
The potential of buses, especially the elongated buses, is promising if we can ever overcome the individual fiefdoms that have sprung up among East Bay bus systems.
All of these transit alternatives working together will help ease the anticipated congestion on Highway 4.
Wide-open freeways, fast cars and the suburbs were synonymous with individual freedom and a major part of the California dream.
The California dream needs some serious tinkering to keep it from becoming a nightmare. Our dependence on cars must change. We need to become more accustomed to joining a carpool or taking some form of public transit: the buses, BART or ferries.
Cities and developers also have to look at giving a wider choice of homes. Suburbs will never go away nor should they, but do we all need individual plots, a driveway with unusable sideyards? The days when the West had endless tracts of land are over.
In developing a new mindset, we need to take a cue from our Eastern brethren who are used to boarding trains, subways and buses to get to work. If we don't change our ways and habits, in planning our communities and our auto-centric mindset, we will be back at square one: Grinding our teeth and tensing our shoulders behind the steering wheel ... stuck in traffic ... AGAIN!
Federal Glover represents District 5 on the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors.