Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BART Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill weekend track work successful

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BART began running on schedule again March 29 between Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill, Calif., after weekend work on a major construction project that involved removing and installing 1,200 feet of rail weighing some four million pounds in under 48 hours.

BART Chief Communications Officer Linton Johnson called it "pretty remarkable" that such a massive feat was accomplished in such a short time, with the first train carrying passengers through the area again at full speed at 4:20 a.m. this morning.

The work was part of a major construction project using $13 million in federal stimulus funds that will allow BART to offer Pittsburg/Bay Point line customers more empty seats and better on-time service. The project requires two temporary shutdowns of track between Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill -- one this past weekend, and another planned for May over Memorial Day weekend. Bus bridges are put in place during the closures to carry passengers between the stations.

Last weekend's work represented the largest planned track outage at BART in more than a decade. Crews began installing "crossover tracks," which allow trains to cross onto another trackway in order to get around a disabled train ahead of it, or simply to turn around and go the opposite direction. The project started in October 2009 and has a target for completion this winter. By adding two more crossover points, trains won't have to travel as far to get to a point in the track that allows them to cross onto a different set of tracks to bypass a disabled train.

The $38 million project creates nearly 1,200 direct and indirect jobs. One third of the money, or $13 million dollars, is federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The second weekend track closure will take place over Memorial Day weekend starting at 9 p.m. Friday, May 28 through 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 1. Additional information will be provided closer to the May closure.

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