Most commuters driving past the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station May 20 may have noticed some unusual proceedings.
East Contra Costa residents may not even know that May was National Transportation Month. The ceremonies reminded me of all the transportation improvements in East County since I took office 19 years ago.
One of the first public events I attended as a new Pittsburg councilman was the groundbreaking for the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station. Ever since then, I have made transportation issues one of my major tasks. I made sure I was on every key decision-making body that had anything to do about transportation.
When I began my first term as supervisor in 2001, my district extended all the way to Discovery Bay from Bay Point. Brentwood and Oakley were basically still small farming communities. Young people still rode their horses into the downtowns. Since then, East County has seen a residential building boom (and subsequent bust) so that today, the region supplies 10 percent of the housing needs of the entire Bay Area.
Correspondingly, the number of Highway 4 daily commuters has exploded to 130,000, and Highway 4 was named one of the worst commutes in the nation. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has named the route a road of significance when before, the MTC commissioners didn't even know where Highway 4 was east of Willow Pass.
In the past two decades, Highway 4 has seen significant widening, and BART has begun work on the eBART tracks that will extend down the highway median to Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch. Additionally, after building the Highway 4 Bypass through Oakley and Brentwood, the county has turned the road over to the state.
The interchange at Sand Creek Road in Brentwood has been built, and the project for the State Route 160/4 interchange has broken ground.
All in all, almost $1.3 billion has been poured into the transportation infrastructure of East County and should be completed under budget.
Barring any unforeseen events, the highway widening to Hillcrest will be completed by 2015, and eBART is slated to be up and running in 2017.
From city councilman to county supervisor to chair of the MTC executive board, it has been a long road.
Of all the public officials with whom I began the task of prioritizing and seeking funding for all the transit needs of East County -- and there were a lot of them -- I'm the only one still holding an elected office. But the process shows the wisdom in working together as a region. No one city -- nor the county -- could have done this on its own.
I want to thank all of those who put aside their local rivalries to work together in the East Contra Costa Regional Fee & Finance Authority (ECCRFFA) to present a stronger case of the transportation needs of East County.
If everything continues as planned, this will be the second Caltrans and CCTA megaproject in two years, the other being Caldecott's fourth bore, which came in on time and under budget.
Besides the ECCRFFA, Contra Costa Transportation Authority and Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Sacramento-based California Transportation Commission and the Washington, D.C.-based Federal Highway Administration are also involved in the Highway 4 widening and the eBART expansion projects.
Federal Glover represents District 5 on the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors. Reach him at email@example.com.