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.