One of those grade separations - either a bridge over the road or a tunnel underneath it allowing street traffic to continue moving while trains pass through - could be built on Auto Center Drive near the Antioch Toyota dealership. But that possibility doesn't sit well with Tom Nokes, owner of the dealership.
"I would fight a bridge tooth and nail," said Nokes. "It would cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars" because a bridge over the road would make it more difficult for motorists to see his business on the other side. "A tunnel would be OK," he said, but added that any grade separation would be a waste of money. "They won't run that many trains."
In addition to Auto Center Drive, grade separations are being considered where the railroad tracks cross A Street, Hillcrest Avenue and Empire Road. Funding would allow eBART to be initially extended to the Empire/Neroly Road site in Oakley if fewer grade separations are built in Antioch.
But grade separations are a high priority for Antioch, said Mayor Don Freitas, a member of the eBART Partnership Policy Advisory Committee (ePPAC), which is chaired by BART board member Joel Keller and comprises elected representatives from the county supervisors and the cities of Brentwood, Oakley and Pittsburg.
"We want eBART extended as far and as fast as possible," said County Supervisor Mary Piepho after ePPAC was briefed last week on projected funding and ridership as well as various modes of transportation or combinations of modes that could be used.
ePPAC voted for a phased approach, with Phase I consisting of stations at Railroad Avenue in Pittsburg (to be built by the city of Pittsburg), Hillcrest Avenue and Empire/Neroly - with the provision that the grade separations are reduced.
Phase II would extend eBART to Byron and include a station at the County Fairgrounds in Antioch. The route would begin in the Highway 4 median with a flyover at Loveridge Road, then use Union Pacific Railroad's Mococo line tracks to far East County.
Freitas pushed for keeping open the option of locating the Hillcrest eBART station east of the existing BART-owned park-and-ride lot. Developer Transcan has ambitious plans for the area, including transit-oriented retail and housing around the eBART station.
"We're getting our feet wet," said Fred Daven, Transcan chief operating officer, adding that he plans to meet with Antioch officials within a month to begin discussing details. Antioch Community Development Director Joe Brandt said that in the past the city has met with eBART staff and Transcan about locating the station slightly to the east, near the PG&E station.
ePPAC also met in closed session Nov. 9 to discuss purchasing or other arrangements for use of the right of way of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The rights could extend from the Loveridge Road area in Pittsburg through East County all the way out to Tracy, opening the possibility of an expanded public transportation system. Officials did not report publicly after the closed session about whether they are making tracks with the railroad.