"We are all extremely happy, extremely pleased to be here. It's been a very long endeavor," said Antioch Mayor Don Freitas to about 100 people gathered on a blustery day under a tent behind Mimi's Cafe and next to the Lone Tree Way on-ramp to the Bypass. "During every political campaign we always say developers have to pay their own way. This Bypass was completely paid by developers' money. It's proof positive that development has paid its fair share."
Unlike most highway projects, which receive substantial federal and state funding, the Bypass has been funded largely from the $15,000-plus fee on new homes built in Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley and unincorporated far East County.
The Oakley segment, connecting Highway 4 to Lone Tree Way with an interchange at Laurel Road, has cost $106 million, making it the most expensive of the three Bypass segments. The middle segment, connecting Lone Tree Way to Balfour Road, was completed in 2002 at a cost of $29 million. The southernmost segment, connecting Balfour Road to Vasco Road with an interchange at Marsh Creek Road, is due to be completed in August at a cost of $80 million.
The fact that Hercules is listed as a destination on some of the Bypass signs was noted by several speakers.
Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor said he received a call at 7 a.m. a month ago when the roadway signs went up. The caller asked him, "'Where the hell is Hercules?' I said, 'I don't know - is that down in south LA?'"
County Supervisor Mary Piepho joked that the song "Do you know the way to San Jose?" might be replaced by "Do you know the way to Hercules?" She added, "And everybody now says, 'Yes, we know the way to Hercules because the Bypass is telling us where in the heck it is.' So maybe it's a good thing. We'll get famous and get some more money out here to build more roads."
Caltrans Director Will Kempton, who served as a consultant on the Bypass when it was just a gleam in officials' eyes 20 years ago, assured the gathering that Hercules will be replaced as a destination on the Bypass signs in favor of the Antioch, Brentwood and Oakley destinations.
Thanking all of those involved, Kempton said, "You folks have demonstrated what partnerships can do if we all work together. Your efforts will go a long way to ensure that East Contra Costa County continues to be an economically viable region in the state of California."