HERCULES -- Escrow has closed on the future site of the long-delayed Intermodal Transit Center in Hercules, the culmination of years of on-again, off-again negotiations and scrambles for public funding that several times rescued the project from the verge of derailment.
The closing occurred Friday and was announced in a news release from Hercules City Hall.
Just over two-thirds of the $3.18 million purchase price will come from Contra Costa County Measure J funds earmarked for transportation, the rest from city development impact fee credits to the seller, Hercules Bayfront LLC.
The ITC was envisaged to combine an Amtrak Capitol Corridor train station, a WestCAT bus transfer area and a ferry terminal connecting to San Francisco. With the ferry an increasingly distant prospect, given the mud flats that line the Hercules shoreline and the existence of a transit connection to San Francisco via WestCAT's popular "Lynx" bus, the prime focus for now is adding a train station.
The ITC concept has existed as part of a grander waterfront vision together with Hercules Bayfront, a private project that would combine up to 1,400 homes plus offices and flex space with a boulevard of restaurants and shops adjacent to the ITC.
With Friday's closing of escrow, the city has acquired just over 60 acres, including 11 on the land side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, which carry Amtrak trains, and about 50 acres on the water side of the tracks, 40 of them submerged.
The inland portion will include the train station and bus transfer area as well as a segment of the Bay Trail. The shoreline portion will include a park as well as a future ferry terminal, according to the news release.
As of March, the cost estimate to complete the train and bus component of the ITC was $76.7 million, the bulk of which would come from federal, state and regional funds; that total does not include about $13.5 million that the city already has spent on the project.
It would cost at least $17 million to dredge a channel from the Hercules shore to deeper bay waters, plus about $3 million every two or three years for maintenance dredging, according to the San Francisco Bay Water Emergency Transportation Authority, the regional umbrella organization of bay ferries and their operators.
A ferry terminal building would cost upward of $25 million, WETA has estimated. Additionally, adding Hercules and other possible East Bay ferry routes would require building additional docking space at the San Francisco terminal, according to WETA.
Officials were exuberant over the closing. In the news release, Mayor Dan Romero and City Manager Steve Duran thanked the community, the City Council and the city staff. Duran also gave special recognition to former Waterfront executive manager Charlie Long for reviving the project, and to Long's successor, Consulting Project Manager William Silva, for securing more than $14 million funding this year from various public agencies.
Jim Anderson of AndersonPacific LLC, the manager of Hercules Bayfront, likened the satisfaction over Friday's closing to "the exhaustion and exhilaration of completing a triathlon," while Silva, quoting the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus, said, "The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it."
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760.