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BART speeds up $3.5 billion infrastructure repair and improvement because of COVID-19 reduced service hours

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Image from BART

More than one-quarter of the infrastructure projects on which BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is working with Measure RR funding have now been completed, exceeding the agency’s timeline projections from when the measure went before voters in 2016.

The agency is currently working on more than 120 infrastructure repair and improvement projects and has already invested roughly $866 million from Measure RR, which authorized BART to issue bonds totaling $3.5 billion to replace aging rail and track components, some of which are more than 40 years old, and modernize the transit system’s stations, Bay City News reported, based on a BART news release.

A newly released report highlights how BART has made the most of reduced service hours during the pandemic to accelerate important infrastructure projects. Through March of this year a total of 126 rebuilding projects across the system were in the planning, design, or construction phases. Another 22 projects were completed. That means completion has been reached on more than 25% of the work included in the Measure RR system rebuilding program.

As of March 2021, BART has utilized Measure RR funds to replace 34 miles of track rail, 27 miles of electrical cables and improved the safety of the platform edges at seven different stations.

The Measure RR Bond Oversight Committee’s fourth annual report was presented to the BART Board of Directors on July 22. You can read the independent oversight committee’s full report here.

As of the end of March 2021 BART had replaced or completed:

  • 34 miles of worn rail.
  • 31 track switches (key track components that help trains switch lines).
  • 27 miles of 34.5kV electrical cable to ensure trains have a reliable source of power.
  • Platform edges at seven stations have been upgraded to improve safety.
  • 58 miles of third rail coverboards (the white, curved fiberglass shields that protect the third rail, which powers BART trains) have been enhanced to reduce failures that cause train delays.
  • 4 major Station Modernization and Station Access projects.

The independent Bond Oversight Committee wrote in its report that the rebuilding projects being prioritized by BART have been delivered in accordance with best practices and are improving the experience of riders by enhancing the reliability of the BART system. The committee also wrote that BART is meeting the bond mandate and is on track to deliver on its public commitments.

Measure RR is a $3.5 billion bond measure that was approved by voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco counties in 2016. The independent Bond Oversight Committee is comprised of seven members who represent a diversity of expertise. The organizations represented on the committee include the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management section of the American Society for Public Administration, the Project Management Institute, and the League of Women Voters.

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