At an estimated cost of $1.3 billion, it's too expensive to bring classic BART to Hillcrest Avenue in the near future. But the $481 million for eBART to get there, possibly in 2014, looks like it will be available, according to BART officials.
So East County motorists, who are currently stuck in the bumper-to-bumper grind of "rush hour" traffic, at least have something to look forward to. If they can hold out until 2013, it should be smooth sailing on Highway 4 all the way to Hillcrest. And a year later, hundreds if not thousands of motorists may forsake the highway altogether and instead take eBART to the Bay Point BART station.
East County leaders are justifiably concerned about the possible negative impact to the Highway 4 widening of the eBART project. The highway widening must remain the top priority, as it will have the most beneficial impact for most East County motorists. But BART officials believe both projects can proceed simultaneously without impinging on one another.
The big downside to the latest eBART news is that it will take longer than originally planned to get eBART trains to Oakley, Brentwood and Byron. Originally scheduled to be completed in 2010, it now looks like we may be a decade or more away from that prospect.
But, with traffic becoming more and more congested each month, it's encouraging that it looks like eBART, which has been saddled with delays and cost overruns, is back on track. And with the completion of the northern segment of the Highway 4 Bypass later this year, the traffic situation will slowly be getting better for East County's weary motorists.