Expected to take three years to complete, the $165 million Loveridge Project will widen the highway to four lanes in each direction, including one carpool lane. The widening will accommodate an eBART line down the highway median that will be constructed simultaneously. It also includes reconstruction of the Loveridge Road interchange and auxiliary lanes between the on- and off-ramps.
After a two-year delay in the highway widening due to the need to redesign it to accommodate a late decision to add the eBART line, the Loveridge Project is the first of five projects that will be under construction for the next 4½ years to widen the highway east to the Highway 4 Bypass.
Congressman John Garamendi feels the pain of East County commuters because he regularly travels Highway 4 from his home in Elk Grove to his district office in Walnut Creek. “I love groundbreaking ceremonies, and I love this one because this is my way into the district,” he told the packed gathering under a large tent near the Loveridge overpass. “And I am tired of counting the daisies alongside the road as I sit there waiting for the traffic to move along. None of this happens without all of you that are here.”
Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor, who is also chairman of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and has spent many hours of his life slogging through the Highway 4 congestion, is delighted that the widened highway will improve access to his city.
“My expression when I first ran for office in Brentwood: Once you’re in Brentwood, you can’t get out. Once you’re out of Brentwood, you can’t get back in,” said Taylor. “Hopefully, this project is going to change that. Every day we sit on the freeway – it’s tough counting those daisies. I did it for like 25 years on this commute. And no matter what time I left, sometimes I was still late.
“We do appreciate all the work that has gone into getting this done. This will affect Oakley, Antioch, Brentwood, Discovery Bay – a lot of commuters, a lot of people. Let’s move some dirt. This is good for our economy; this is good for jobs. This, as our vice president said – and I’ll leave one word out – this is a big deal. And I’m very happy to be part of that big deal.”
After Loveridge, the next phase of the highway widening reconfigures the Somersville Road interchange and widens the road to just west of Contra Loma Boulevard. The construction bids for that phase will be advertised this summer, and construction is expected to start later this year.
The Contra Loma/L Street segment of the widening is scheduled to begin next spring and continue through the winter of 2013. In addition to widening the highway to just west of Lone Tree Way, this project will eliminate the G Street on- and off-ramps.
The Lone Tree Way/A Street segment, which is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012 and conclude in the winter of 2014, will widen the highway to just west of Hillcrest Avenue.
The final phase of the project focuses on the Hillcrest Avenue interchange area and widening the highway to the Bypass. It’s scheduled to begin in the summer of 2012 and conclude in the winter of 2014. The eBART line, with stations in the highway median at Railroad and Hillcrest avenues, is scheduled to be completed around the same time.
While funding has been secured for the highway widening and eBART line, the financial pipeline is drying up for future transportation projects, according to Garamendi.
“We have a real problem at the federal level,” he said. “We need to re-authorize the Surface Transportation Act. Not easily done. We’re going to have to find the money to pay for these improvements. We can still borrow from China a little while longer, perhaps. But those days are going to be over. So we’re going to need to really move forward. All of us have to think about these next steps; how we’re going to get these things done.
“It’s critically important. If you can’t move, you can’t move your economy, you can’t create jobs. So these infrastructure projects are critical. I’m delighted to see this one move along. I’m looking forward to the next phase. We are moving closer and closer to closing the gap and moving transportation through this area. It can’t be done without all of us working together. For those of you who have worked on these projects: a very, very big thank you from a Highway 4 commuter that’s looking forward to the relief.”
For more information, call the highway widening project hotline at 925-756-0721 or go online to www.widensr4.org.