Posted: 6:26 p.m. Friday, June 13, 2014

Major progress reported on Highway 4 project


Highway 4 photo
Highway 4

By Tom Vacar

OAKLAND, Calif. —

While the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is carrying traffic, major highway projects are still underway. Most notably, the $1.3 billion transportation corridor which will revolutionize traffic on Highway 4.  

This is a true game changer for Bay Area transportation and new business growth. Highway 4 is one of the nation's worst commuting headaches, and now it will no longer hold that dubious distinction by the end of next year.

Thanks to Contra Costa voters, the massive project is going full steam ahead.

"You're gonna take an antiquated four lane facility and you're gonna make it a modern 10 lane facility, so you’re gonna add capacity," says Randy Iwasaki, Director of the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority.

Capacity means less hassle.

"Then, all of a sudden, it starts attracting businesses to the area. People who want to create jobs they go out to where the land may be a little cheaper, they start their business, they  can get their labor,  They've got skilled labor out there," says Iwasaki.

Everything being done is done one a huge scale as construction on the flyovers connecting Highway 4 to the Antioch Bridge approach illustrates. When six massive, twelve foot wide, hundred foot long steel columns are finally buried on the ground and filled with concrete, we will never see them again, but the columns that will rest on top and the highway that will rest on them, will be pretty much impervious to any earthquake Mother Nature can throw at them.

By 2017 EBART, a light a light rail extension of big BART that will extend from Pittsburg's Bay Point station to Antioch should be complete.  This week, BART awarded contracts for track construction and railcar manufacturing.  Extending EBART south to the vast bedroom communities of Oakley and Brentwood will be easy because the right of way to lay track is already in place.

"This is an area that has supplied a little under 10 percent of the housing needs of the Bay area over the last two decades and so, hopefully, the jobs will come to the eastern part of Contra Costa," says Transportation Authority Director Randy Iwasaki.

The entire widening project has been done without loss of existing lane capacity during commute and working hours.

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