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Monday, December 14, 2009

BART Board awards Oakland Airport Connector contract

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The struggling Bay Area economy just received a big boost thanks to the BART Board, whose vote also means BART customers will finally have a swift, world-class train-to-plane connection between the Coliseum BART Station and the Oakland Airport. After two decades of planning and debate, the Board of Directors voted seven to one to award California-based Flatiron/Parsons Joint Venture the contract to design and build the 3.2-mile automated people mover. The Board also voted seven to one to award Doppelmayr Cable Car, Inc., the contract to operate and maintain the connector once built.

The $492-million project, which will use $70 million in federal stimulus money, should create up to 5,000 direct and indirect jobs during the three and a half year construction phase, which should begin in mid-2010.

Once built, the connector will replace the AirBART buses that often are bogged down by Hegenberger Road traffic, Coliseum sporting events, freight trains and accidents, all of which create great angst for anxious air travelers rushing to make their flights. By contrast, the connector will be a far more relaxing ride. The APMs will be all electric and run on a fixed, elevated guideway above the congestion. The APMs will arrive at the Coliseum BART Station every 4.5 minutes and will quickly transport air travelers to the airport in 8 minutes and 12 seconds with an on-time performance exceeding 99%.

"This is a historic day for the Bay Area economy and BART," Board President Thomas Blalock said. "This project will put people to work beginning early next year. Once completed, it will provide the East Bay with a system that will swiftly transport people between BART and the airport and cause millions of air travelers to wonder how they could have ever lived without it."

The total cost of the project is $492 million - or $60 million less than the $552 million BART estimated in April. A competitive bidding environment led to lower than projected costs.

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