OAKLAND -- BART directors on Thursday unanimously approved a $7.7 million contract for the next phase of strengthening the 3.6-mile-long Transbay Tube to make sure it's safe during earthquakes.

The contract calls for California Engineering Contractors of Pleasanton to install steel plating inside the tube.

The work is a small part of BART's $1.3 billion, 10-year earthquake safety program aimed at protecting its core system against a major earthquake.

The work involves bolting 2.5-inch steel plates on the concrete wall of the tunnel that runs under the Bay between San Francisco and Oakland. The work is expected to begin this spring and be completed about two years later.

BART's earthquake safety program has been underway since 2001 and transit agency officials say significant work to strengthen the tube has already been completed.

They say strengthening the transbay tube is a major priority because it connects San Francisco to the East Bay.

Although the tube withstood the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, BART officials say that quake was about 60 miles away from the Bay Area and geologists believe the next big temblor will be much closer.

BART Board President John McPartland said in a statement, "Our earthquake safety program retrofit started in the transbay tube and we are almost finished."

He said, "This upcoming work is yet another indication that we take seriously our responsibility to prepare for the inevitability of a major earthquake."


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In addition to strengthening the tube, BART's earthquake safety program strengthen 34 stations, 22 miles of elevated track, including 1,918 support columns and parking structures and other facilities.

BART officials say the program is 85 percent complete and is ahead of schedule and on budget.



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