CONCORD (KTVU) -- Concord city officials and BART executives broke ground Monday on a new pedestrian walkway that when completed will make it easier for train riders to access the city's growing list of amenities in its downtown.
The current BART train stations were built several years before Concord and other East Bay cities had the assortment of restaurants and businesses that exist now.
Concord officials say the new $6.5 million walkway will provide greater access into downtown Concord because it features a direct path for bicycle riders and pedestrians.
A raised pedestrian crosswalk, an additional bike lane and improved signage are also part of the redo. The pathway will follow Grant Street and provide easy access to the Todos Santos Plaza.
About 20 Concord city officials, BART representatives and a few construction workers in hard hats and fluorescent vests attended the ceremony. The officials who addressed the crowd spoke over the sound of jackhammers from the construction.
The project is expected to be completed in summer 2018.
"It's important that we orient our stations toward the parts of cities where there is activity," BART Director Joel Keller said.
"It's a red-carpet setting," said California Assemblyman Tim Grayson, D-Concord, a former mayor of Concord. "People will get off BART and walk to restaurants and concerts."
The stone walkway will also be wheelchair accessible. Also, the construction work will include a crosswalk, bike lane and new lighting.
Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister said the city has wanted to build the project for several years. She said the project has been on the drawing board for at least 10 years.
"We have an actual destination" now, Hoffmeister said.
Some BART riders expressed differing opinions about the project.
"We would totally use it," said Shannon Carol of Concord. "I have five kids (so) I would use it."
One BART rider who was catching a train at the station said the agency should invest more money in train repairs, maintenance and upkeep.
"That's where the money should go," the BART passenger said.
BART and Concord city officials said the project is funded by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, who tapped revenue approved by voters during past elections.
The project will mostly be paid for by revenue from Measure J. Voters passed the measure in 2004, continuing an existing Contra Costa County half-cent transportation sales tax used to pay for transportation programs.
By KTVU reporter Leigh Martinez. Bay City News contributed to this report.