Many Delays Caused by Ongoing BART Construction

Liz Berndt, Editor-in-Chief

Many Orinda citizens have noticed the lane closed next to BART on Camino Pablo Road. This traffic obstruction is part of BART’s attempt to earthquake-proof all the stations in the Bay Area. The construction will not be completed until mid to late 2014, and the lane will be closed until August 2014.

Partial earthquake-proofing was completed in 2011; the current construction is the second and final stage of the process: reinforcing BART’s elevated structures. In order to reach the correct foundation, the ground above must be removed and the excavation vacuum (the large machine in the closed lane) must be within 30 feet, leading to the closed lane.

There are three reasons for the lane closure according to the Resident Engineer on the project,  Dung Tran. The lane was closed so that it may be used as as an access for the vacuum truck, acting as a safety buffer between the work area and the open lanes, and to close off all areas that will be touched (part of the closed lane will be excavated in the retrofitting process).

The truck must be situated in the lane because of its close proximity. The further away the truck, the less pressure there is in the hose and the vacuum cannot successfully pull out the dirt that is being excavated. The hose they are using is 30 feet long, reaching the closed lane exactly.

“We had one complaint about the noise from a resident living about 600 feet from the work site,” Tran said, “We took active measure and changed our work hours. Instead of working from midnight to eight and then eight to four, we are now work from six a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to ten p.m.”

“Because of the site constraints, mainly the limited space, all the work must be done by August” Tran said. In addition, they are working as fast as they can with the limited space, but the lack of overflow area is the reason the construction will take so long, according to Tran.

Up to date, no accidents have been reported because of the lane closure. Even with the changing weather, the possible rain in the future, Tran doesn’t believe construction will be stalled. First, their construction is under an overhang. Second, if the site does flood, they have all the equipment needed to pump the site.

In addition to the lane closures, the public restrooms have been relocated to the parking lot directly across from the BART station. The previous restrooms will reopen when construction is finished. Pedestrian access has changed and public parking will be reduced periodically.