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Rep. Garamendi tours BART to see stimulus money in action

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East Bay Congressman John Garamendi (D.Calif.) toured BART to see how a new construction project, using $13 million in federal stimulus money, is putting thousands of people to work and will ultimately provide more seating, more trains and improved on-time performance for BART commuters riding between Pleasant Hill, Oakland and San Francisco.

Congressman Garamendi, who
is the newest appointee to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure, toured the construction site of the Central
Contra Costa County, Calif. Crossover Project. Construction began in October
2009. Once completed in December 2010, the Crossover project will mean many
BART riders on the Pittsburg/Bay Point line will have more seating, more
frequent trains and better on-time performance during commute hours. It does
this by adding two sections of "crossovers" tracks between the Walnut
Creek and Pleasant Hill stations, Additionally, the $13 million in federal
stimulus money that completes the $38 million funding package for the project
is creating 1,190 direct and indirect jobs.

The two additional
crossovers will provide more seating and more trains for BART customers between
Pleasant Hill and the downtowns of Oakland and San Francisco during the
commutes. Current operation plans require most Pittsburg/Bay Point Line trains
to proceed all the way to the Pittsburg/Bay Point Station, which is at the end
of the line. However, as many as six peak period trains terminate their runs at
the Concord Station. This is known as "short-turning." Short-turn
trains provide increased seating capacity because rather than continuing all
the way to Pittsburg/Bay Point Station with decreasing passenger loads, the
trains turn around sooner and start picking up customers again in the commute
direction. Once completed, the Crossover project will allow trains to turn
around even sooner – at either the Walnut Creek or Pleasant Hill stations. This
effectively allows BART to add more trains to the schedule – all without having
to actually purchase more rail cars.

"Congressman Garamendi
has always been a strong advocate for public transit and we’re pleased that he
toured BART to show his continued support of worthy projects like this
one," BART Board President James Fang said. "The federal stimulus
funding allows us to complete this critical project and make BART a more
attractive option to driving. By being able to lure motorists off the road with
the promise of more trains more often with more seating, we will not only be
able to reduce congestion, we will also be able to improve the environment as
well."

The Crossover project will
also improve BART’s on-time performance by installing two crossover points in
the approximately five-mile stretch between Lafayette and Pleasant Hill
stations. Currently, there are only two crossover points in that stretch – each
located just north of both stations. Thus, if there’s a stuck train headed
northbound between Lafayette and Pleasant Hill stations, all the other
northbound trains behind the disabled train would have to cross onto the
southbound trackway near the Lafayette Station travel five miles to Pleasant
Hill Station and then cross back to the northbound station. Meantime, all the
southbound trains would have to wait near Pleasant Hill Station until the
northbound trains using their trackway are out of the way. This can cause
trains to back up and passengers to experience delays that typically average 10
to 15 minutes. By adding two new additional crossovers in the middle of this
five-mile section of trackway, BART can cut delays significantly and improve
on-time performance for customers.

"With the
Pittsburg/Bay Point Line now providing direct service into San Francisco
International Airport, it is even more vital that we complete this project for
our customers," BART Board Member Joel Keller said. Keller represents the
area around Pittsburg/Bay Point. "We know our riders take BART to SFO
because our trains are so much more reliable than driving. Thanks to
Congressman Garamendi and his strong support of BART, this project will just
bolster our average 95 percent on-time performance."

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