BART moves forward with Oakland Airport Connector project

BART moves forward with Oakland Airport Connector project

On Thursday, May 14, BART’s Board of Directors did its part for riders who want a quick, reliable, traffic-free and environmentally-friendly transit connection between BART’s Coliseum Station and the Oakland Airport.  Construction of the approximately $500 million Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project would use $70 million in federal stimulus money.  The entire project would create and/or support approximately 13,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate $1.2 billion in economic activity according to the American Public Transportation Association’s formula.

By a historic vote of 7 to 1, the Board approved the last of the resolutions vital to its role in funding the project, which has been studied since the 1970s.  The Board authorized BART staff to apply for up to $150 million in low-interest federal loans to secure the final funding.  BART expects ridership revenues to cover the cost of the loan.

“Finally, Oakland will have a world-class, environmentally-friendly transit connection from Oakland Coliseum BART station to its airport – similar to the automated people mover at SFO,” BART Board President Tom Blalock said. “Not only will this bring jobs in the short term it will also lure businesses and airlines to Oakland and if funding becomes available there could be future stations along the line to enhance the local economy.”

“I’ve been working on this project for over 20 years,” said BART Board Member Carole Ward Allen who represents the district in which the project will be built. “We have worked with the community and all the special interest groups involved and I am so happy that the BART Board has voted on this.  We can move forward on a project that will serve the city, the region and the nation.  The stimulus money will provide jobs and economic relief to citizen of Oakland. As we move forward I’m personally going to push to spend as much of this and future funding as possible on minority and women-owned businesses and to hire locally and buy American.”

The OAC would prepare for future growth in the East Bay by creating a high-tech, environmentally friendly 3.2-mile elevated automated people mover connection between the Coliseum BART Station and Oakland International Airport.  The OAC would replace the current AirBART bus connection, which is subjected to traffic gridlock.
“BART is an integral and vital part of the Bay Area Community,” BART Board Vice President James Fang said.  Fang, who is the Board’s longest-serving member, added, “Through the actions of Thursday’s meeting we are delighted to not only create eco-friendly transit solutions, which now connect two of the Bay Area’s major airports, but bring critical construction revenue to the region.”

In addition to the $150 million loan, the rest of the funding for design and construction of the approximately $500 million project would come from local, state and federal sources.  BART expects revenue service to begin in 2013.