|Posted on September 28, 2022|
|BART celebrates 50 years with two of its stations in Lamorinda|
|By Vera Kochan|
|Lafayette and Orinda BART stations celebrate 50 years of service. Photo Vera Kochan|
Although the official year Bay Area Rapid Transit began revenue service was 1972, the concept began nearly six decades earlier.
As early as 1911, Bay Area business and municipal leaders had met to discuss various options on how best to “connect” the East Bay to San Francisco. Ideas that at the time would have been considered science fiction quickly became viable possibilities with the advent of improved technology.
It wasn’t until 1946 that BART as we know it began to take shape. After World War II, a migration boom made its way to California, with much of it settling in the Bay Area. The population explosion added commuters, which triggered increased traffic on roads and bridges.
According to “BART History” author Justin Roberts, “In 1947, a joint Army-Navy review board concluded that another San Francisco-Oakland route would be needed in the years to come. to avoid intolerable congestion on the Bay Bridge. The link? An undersea tube dedicated exclusively to high-speed electric trains.”
The state legislature established a San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission in 1951, made up of 26 representatives from each of the nine counties bordering the bay. They decided that the least expensive option was to form a five-county district (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo) responsible for building and operating the new high-speed rail system.
Someone had to pay for a new BART system, and that someone was the taxpayers. The five-county district was granted taxation power of five cents per $100 of property assessment. He was also given the power to levy property taxes to support a general obligation bond issue, if approved by district voters. Additional funds would come from operating revenues. The total cost of the system, in 1962, was estimated at $996 million and was considered the largest public works project ever undertaken in the United States by local citizens.
Official construction began on June 19, 1964, with President Lyndon Johnson attending groundbreaking ceremonies where the Concord–Walnut Creek link would be developed.
“In July 1967, work began on the Market Street underground stations,” Roberts wrote. “Carried out 80 to 100 feet below the heavy downtown traffic, against the combined pressure of mud and bay water, the work required one of the greatest concentrations of crews and equipment of tunneling in the history of construction.”
Additionally, “the Subway excavations were rich in buried ships and other memorabilia, providing a fascinating look at 19th-century San Francisco when the Lower Market Street and Embarcadero landfill was still an open port.”
At noon on September 11, 1972, BART officially opened the first 28 miles of its system between Fremont and MacArthur stations to fare-paying passengers. Later that month, President Richard Nixon took a BART train from San Leandro to the Lake Merritt station. It wasn’t long before BART carried its millionth runner on December 12 of that year.
Lafayette and Orinda stations along with the rest of the 17-mile Concord line began service on May 21, 1973, connecting East Contra Costa County to MacArthur station. In the space of a year, the Transbay Tube saw trains from East Bay travel to San Francisco at an average speed of 75 mph. Stretching 3.6 miles along the bottom of the bay, it is considered one of the deepest carrier tubes (135 feet below the surface) in the world.
Since California and the Bay Area are known for continuous seismic activity, extensive studies have been conducted. Although the tube would not cross any active geologic faults, the tube was designed with earthquake-absorbing flexibility and packed from bank to bank in a trench of loose soil, gravel and mud for cushion. Flexible connections were also used which allowed several inches of movement up or down, in or out and sideways. It may be noted that during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the BART was inspected within hours and found to be the only safe means of transportation between Oakland and San Francisco because the Bay Bridge had suffered a structural collapse.
After a year of service and 56 miles of track, BART had 5 million passengers carried; as well as plans to add stations farther along each of its lines with fares of a minimum of 25 cents and a maximum of $1.45 (one way) based on miles traveled – children from 4 and under could ride for free.
The Lafayette station car park was originally built with a capacity of 982 vehicles. The Orinda Station lot comes in second place with 939 vehicle spaces.
Cost estimates for BART, as of February 28, 1975, were $1.619 billion. This included direct construction costs; design and construction management; relocation of utilities; land and land rights; rolling stock; Insurance; other construction costs; preliminary costs, security and maintenance; unrestricted funds from the Transportation Development Act; cost of the Transbay tube; and contingencies.
The project received funding from the sale of general obligation bonds; California Toll Bridge Authority; proceeds from sales tax revenue; income from Temporary Investments; Development of public transport; Federal Capital Grants; and miscellaneous income.
After 50 years, it’s hard to imagine what the Bay Area’s ever-increasing traffic problems would look like if it weren’t for heavy lifting BART to help alleviate a significant portion of the congestion on our roads. . Lamorinda residents use the convenient rail system in all directions for work, shopping, day trips, airport trips, sporting events and more. If only finding a parking spot could be that easy.