PINOLE -- The Pinole City Council took the lead Tuesday in West Contra Costa County's quest for a BART extension by unanimously calling for a feasibility study as a first step.

The vote was 4-0. Councilman Roy Swearingen was absent due to a health-related issue.

Zakhary Mallett, the newly elected District 7 BART board member, is proposing to extend BART service north from El Cerrito Del Norte along the Interstate 80 corridor on Richmond's eastern edge to San Pablo and from there to Richmond Hilltop, Pinole and Hercules.

An alternative route would describe a westward loop via the existing downtown Richmond station to points north. But Pinole Councilman Peter Murray said he prefers a more direct route, such as the one Mallett proposes, that would make it practical and easy for the region's residents to take public transit "from Point A to Point B -- not from Point A to Point B to Point C to Point D."

Mallett said he would advocate for the more direct route while noting that state and federal environmental regulations mandate looking at alternatives.

Outside the council chamber, Pinole resident Jim Tillman vowed to organize his neighbors in opposition to Mallett's concept because he believes a BART extension along I-80 would pass close to his and his neighbor's houses. Tillman suggested that BART instead should build an extension to Solano County along the Interstate 680 corridor in Central Contra Costa.

Mallett said Tillman's concerns are "greatly premature."

The city councils in three other West Contra Costa cities -- Richmond, San Pablo and Hercules -- are expected to vote later this month on resolutions to endorse a BART service extension northward.

BART's District 7 covers most of West Contra Costa, except for Kensington and a piece of El Cerrito, as well as part of Northern Alameda County and San Francisco.

Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760 or tlochner@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at twitter.com/tomlochner.