Top engineering group gives BART Director top honors

Top engineering group gives BART Director top honors

Director Lynette Sweet wins "2005 Public Official of the Year"

While most people were at home with their families or even fast asleep, BART Director Lynette Sweet was either taking dozens of reporters on a 2 a.m. tour of BART's Transbay Tube or spending countless evenings and weekends talking to community groups about BART's seismic safety problems and what engineering can do to fix them.

That's why Wednesday, April 27, 2005, one of the nation's most prestigious non-profit engineering group, the Consulting Engineering and Land Surveyors of California -Bay Bridge Chapter (CELSOC) honored Director Sweet with its biggest award ? the "2005 Public Official of the Year" award.

"Essentially, we awarded Director Sweet with the big one for spending all her free time over the past two years talking about how engineering can prepare BART for the ?Big One'," joked CELSOC Board Member Darlene Gee. "Seriously, though, we looked at virtually every elected official in the Bay Area to see what contributions they made toward advancing the ideals of the engineering industry. We recognized Director Sweet for putting a lot of extra time into supporting the efforts to procure the funding for a very important Bay Area project - BART's Earthquake Safety Program."

CELSOC's Bay Area Chapter president, Karl Schaarschmidt, gives a great deal of credit to Director Sweet for the successful passage of BART's $980 million earthquake safety bond measure, called Measure AA. "More than two-thirds of voters in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties approved Measure AA on November 2, 2004. It couldn't have happened without Director Sweet's tireless work," Schaarschmidt said.

The property tax bond will pay for most of BART's $1.3 billion Earthquake Safety Program. Work has already begun on the 10-year program, which will strengthen BART's Transbay Tube as well as all of BART's original elevated tracks and stations to withstand a massive earthquake. U.S. Geological Survey scientists predict a 62% chance that at least one 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake will rock the Bay Area before the year 2032.

"With odds like that, I felt I had no choice but to spend as much time as possible educating the public on BART's earthquake strengthening needs," said Director Sweet. " I was thrilled beyond imagination that the voters overwhelmingly trusted us to spend their money to strengthen their system. I humbly thank CELSOC for this incredible honor because it's not only a symbol of my work, but a symbol of the public's faith in BART."