We predicted with utter confidence six months ago that BART would open its long-awaited new extension and station in Fremont’s Warm Springs district. Eventually.

What we didn’t know then: when “eventually” would be.

Now we do: March 25, two weeks from tomorrow Pacific Daylight Time.

The Warm Springs extension, which runs 5.4 miles south from BART’s current East/South Bay terminus in Fremont, broke ground in 2009 with a planned opening date of 2014. A variety of construction, electrical and technology problems led to the date being moved back into 2015, then early 2016, then late 2016, to now.

Some of the issues involved the system’s widely acknowledged problem with aging infrastructure.

“One of the most serious stumbling blocks we had was a problem with the cables that provide power — not only to Warm Springs but also to the existing line from Hayward to Fremont,” BART spokesman Jim Allison said Friday. “One of those cables failed, and while we were able to continue to run train service from Fremont, we weren’t able to do our testing on the Warm Springs extension.”

That resulted in an emergency cable replacement project last year that Allison said set back the Warm Springs timetable six months. After that, BART had to deal with a problem involving the inability of the agency’s ancient train-control computer system to communicate with modern gear installed on the new extension.

“Most recently we’ve had some problems with the software for the train control, and we’ve been working through those methodically,” Allison said. “That took us longer than we had hoped. But the good news is that we do have the finish line in sight now, in just two weeks.”

BART has said that it expects the station to offer an alternative to the traffic-choked Nimitz Freeway, with daily ridership of 6,000 to 7,000 when it opens. The facility will have a 2,000-car parking lot, and 40 of those parking spaces will include solar-powered charging stations for electric cars.

Allison noted that the entire facility, not just the car-charging stations, will run on solar power. But he said his favorite feature is the art-glass installation in the station’s entrance rotunda.

“It’s designed to make it a really show-stopping sight, especially with the sun you get in South Fremont in the summertime and spring,” Allison said.

The Warm Springs extension is a key link in BART’s expansion to Silicon Valley. A 10-mile extension from Warm Springs through Milpitas and on to San Jose’s Berryessa district is schedule to open late this year.

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

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