BART is moving forward with a track replacement project near the Orinda Station, which will require five weekend track shutdowns between the Lafayette and Rockridge stations. Preliminary work is already underway on the effort to replace critical track components that in many cases date back to when BART first started service on its main Contra Costa line in 1973. This replacement effort has been designated as an essential public works project per the region’s public health orders issued in response to the coronavirus. The project is being conducted for the safety of BART passengers and employees.
The shutdown weekends are May 9-10, May 23-25 (Memorial Day weekend), June 6-7, June 20-21, and July 4-5. Free buses will replace trains on those weekends and riders should expect delays of 20-25 minutes.
BART closely examined the possibility of moving up the track shutdown weekends to minimize impacts to the public. However, it was determined this wasn’t possible because BART couldn’t acquire needed materials for the project ahead of schedule. BART is prioritizing the safety of its workers and contractors by following social distancing guidelines for all critical infrastructure projects that are allowed to proceed under state and regional stay-at-home orders.
The work will require temporary, late night and early morning lane closures of Highway 24 in Orinda to make way for construction equipment. Periodic overnight lane closures in Orinda begin in mid-April. These overnight lane closures will involve no more than two lanes and are expected to have minimal impact on Highway 24 drivers. Unlike similar work completed last year in Lafayette, this project will NOT require weekend daytime lane closures on Highway 24.
BART crews will work around-the-clock on shutdown weekends to replace critical railway components.
Project highlights include:
- Replacing four track switches that are at the end of their useful lives. These are large track components that can measure up to 200 feet in length and allow trains to move from line to line.
- Installing approximately 3,000 feet of new rail.
- Replacing approximately 300 badly worn wooden ties with longer-lasting, concrete ones.
- Replacing 600 to 800 tons of rock ballast, which is essential for stabilizing the rail.
Many of the components being replaced are more than 40 years-old and have reached the end of their design life. Once the project is complete BART customers will experience a more comfortable ride and trains will be quieter for riders and neighbors.
BART making gains on capital work during the stay-at-home order
While BART was unable to accelerate the timeline of this project, the agency is continuing work to improve the system and rebuild aging infrastructure.
Extremely low ridership and the new 9 pm service closure are allowing new opportunities for progress on capital projects. Several projects are being advanced during this period including the 19th Street Station Modernization, El Cerrito Del Norte Station Modernization, Rail Grinding, Rail Replacement, and Transbay Tube Cathodic Protection.
Capital projects are not paid for by operating funds, which means the huge revenue loss from the ridership decline isn’t delaying infrastructure work. Many capital projects are supported by Measure RR, which was approved by BART District voters in 2016. The bond measure provides BART with $3.5 billion in funding for infrastructure work. The rail replacement project near the Orinda Station is funded by RR.
Track revitalization to begin this summer in Hayward
A second major track replacement project is scheduled to begin this summer on the weekend of July 18-19 near the Hayward Station. The work is expected to require five weekend track shutdowns between the Bay Fair and South Hayward stations. Free buses will replace trains on those weekends and riders can expect delays of 20-40 minutes. The track shutdown weekends are scheduled to be July 18-19, August 1-2, August 22-23, September 5-7 (Labor Day weekend), and September 19-20. More details will be announced closer to the start of work.
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