TRANSIT: BART passes halfway point on Oakland Airport Connector project

Controversial project would reduce travel time to airport to eight minutes

January 02, 2013

Officials with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) estimated this week that construction is 65% complete on the controversial Oakland Airport Connector project. The entire track is scheduled for a finish date in late 2013, with service opening to the public in September 2014.

The new service—which will utilize automated, motorized cable cars rather than BART trains—will replace the AirBART shuttle bus operated by the Port of Oakland. Riders will be able to travel along the connector in eight minutes for an estimated $4-$6.

Construction crews reached the halfway point in July with the completion of columns and foundations for the new track. Current work is focusing on installation of the steel trestles, along with building the new stations and maintenance center.

Project plans have been in the works since 2000, when Alameda County voters approved a transportation sales tax that ultimately generated $89 million for the project. In 2010, however, the federal government reclaimed $70 million from BART due to a lack of public comment from minority and low-income communities.

Opponents of the Oakland Airport Connector say that an improved bus service would be sufficient and that the money consigned to the project would be better spent on other regional transportation needs.    

The entire project is expected to cost $484 million.

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