In December, BART officials presented an updated design of a potential $462 million eBART station at Highway 4 and Hillcrest Avenue. City Council members rejected the design, noting the lack of a station agent, public restrooms and escalators. BART Director Joel Keller said at the time that there wasn’t enough funding for a station agent or escalators and public restrooms would attract criminal activity.
However, Tuesday night’s proposal from project manager Ric Rattray addressed Antioch’s safety concerns. If the station comes to fruition, there will be a dedicated station agent at the Hillcrest stop during peak hours – 6 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. The station will also employ a community service officer for the morning, afternoon and evening hours the station agent is absent.
The police chiefs of Antioch and BART are also working together to make sure that one party won’t create too much work for the other. Acting Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando and BART’s top cop, Kenton Rainey, said at Tuesday’s meeting that they have been sharing ideas to make the area safer and will form a partnership should the station become a reality.
“Criminals don’t know boundaries, so it’s very important for us to work together, share information, share resources and back each other up,” Rainey said. “We don’t want the City of Antioch to bear the burden of our policing responsibility, and vice versa.”
To further promote safety, BART plans to place 38 closed-circuit TV cameras throughout the station and parking lot. A public address system originating in transit headquarters in Oakland will allow a BART officer keep an eye on the Antioch station and warn potential wrong-doers that they’re being monitored.
Antioch City Council members were pleasantly surprised that their constructive criticisms were taken into consideration in this latest proposal. Included in the newest plans are two public restrooms and space for a future escalator, should the funding for one materialize, and a shaded parking area equipped with solar panels.
The council voted 4-0 in favor of approving the station’s design. Councilman Brian Kalinowski was out of town.
“What we all want is a clean and safe BART station, and I think you’ve committed to doing that,” Councilman Wade Harper said. “No plan is perfect. This is not perfect, but I think it’s good.”
The proposed eBART station would link East County to the rest of the Bay Area. There would be a transfer point at the Pittsburg/Bay Point station, a stop at Railroad Avenue in Pittsburg and an end-of-the-line station at Hillcrest Avenue. Trains would run in sync with the traditional BART schedule, namely 4 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and in 15-minute intervals. Rattray noted that the diesel, multiple-unit cars running between Hillcrest and Pittsburg/Bay Point can reach speeds of 75 miles per hour, similar to a traditional BART train.
However, not everyone was pleased with BART’s proposal. Richard Mossman, president of the Antioch Democratic Club, said that council should reject this project unless it’s 100-percent thrilled with what it entails. He noted that his organization has and will continue to oppose the eBART project until the transit managers return with plans for a station worthy of Antioch.
Though BART is working with CalTrans now to prepare the Highway 4 median for the train lines, it would take roughly five years for the eBART station to be functional.
“I was initially skeptical about some of the issues that were outstanding at the time,” Councilman Gary Agopian said, “but I’m very pleased we received a listening ear.”