Click photo to enlarge
Proposed BART station near Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch, Calif. (Courtesy/BART)

ANTIOCH -- The proposed design for the BART station here is drawing the ire of city leaders because it lacks restrooms, escalators and space for a service agent.

Council members agreed that the plans for a station near Hillcrest Avenue fall well-short of expectations and raise operational and safety issues. Councilman Brian Kalinowski even suggested that the city not approve sending the Hillcrest project out to bid, which could ultimately derail the $462 million extension, dubbed eBART.

The reaction at last week's City Council meeting echoed previous complaints that residents in East Contra Costa won't be getting the level of service they deserve with eBART, which was expected to be completed by 2015.

"At the end of the day, if the project and the facility doesn't meet the needs of the residents and taxpayers of eastern Contra Costa County, then it should not be built," Kalinowski said.

Kalinowski asked that BART return with a bid document that includes the city's desired provisions, calling those items "deal breakers."

BART will consider adding restrooms and a space for a service agent but may not be able to afford it right away because of cost, said director Joel Keller, who represents East Contra Costa on the agency's board.

The current design of the Hillcrest station reflects the financial resources available to BART, said Ellen Smith, eBART project manager.

"We will look for creative ways to be as responsive as possible," Keller said. "We'll do the best we can. We're not taking the concerns lightly."

The eBART plan, which was presented to regional leaders in 2001, calls for diesel battery-operated trains that will carry passengers from BART's terminus at the Pittsburg-Bay Point station to the Hillcrest station. A station is also planned near Railroad Avenue in Pittsburg.

A 2002 transit study called for eBART stations to be "simple at-grade platforms with sheltered areas for passengers." Environmental documents approved for the project indicate there would be no employees on site. Rather, security personnel would patrol the eBART corridor, with closed-circuit cameras monitoring the station.

The location of the proposed station, which is on the edge of town and adjacent to Highway 4, presents some law-enforcement concerns, said Dan Hartwig, BART police patrol commander.

Components of the Hillcrest station have been discussed only in broad terms, said Victor Carniglia, a city planning consultant. The focus has been on larger issues such as connecting the BART system to local roads and the station's location, he said.

The Hillcrest station as proposed would cost from $10 million to $15 million, Smith said. Antioch's request would add an additional $5 million to the cost, she said.

The station design is the latest disappointment for the city in the long effort to expand BART service. Many residents wanted to see traditional BART in eastern Contra Costa and were upset by the eBART model.

City leaders also expressed frustration this year upon learning that the Hillcrest station would be 900 feet to the west of their desired location because of cost constraints.

"I'm not willing to blink on (the station design) as we move forward," Kalinowski said.

BART's proposed design once again treats Antioch and the region as "second-class citizens," said Donald Freitas, former Antioch mayor and the city's regional representative on transportation issues from 1998 to 2008.

Not having a restroom or employee presence at the station is "absolutely unbelievable and, quite frankly, unacceptable," he said.

Every other station in the BART system has an attendant and restrooms.

Keller told the council Tuesday there would be "no frowns" from his fellow BART directors if eBART doesn't materialize.

"If your decision ultimately is that nothing is better than compromise, then that's your decision. Six hundred people won't go to work. Ten thousand people won't have an opportunity to use transit in East Contra Costa County," he said.

BART, which will report back to the City Council early next year, hopes to put the station out to bid in the spring.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.