Controversial BART tram to Oakland Airport opens, but questions remain

By : sfexaminer – exerpt

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, along with state transportation officials and politicos of all stripes, stood with smiles frozen Friday as they waited for one last politician before finally cutting the ribbon for the new monorail connecting BART to Oakland International Airport.

It was an appropriate stall, analogous to the project’s 30-year holding pattern. The long haul finally concluded Saturday with the inaugural ride of the much-contested driverless tram…

The 3.2-mile connector was proposed decades ago and over the years created much controversy. Now operational, it picks up passengers at the Oakland Coliseum BART station and whisks them on a silky-smooth 8-minute ride to the front of the Oakland International Airport…

The new tram might be a big improvement from the bus shuttle it replaced, but it still has critics.

TransForm, a transportation advocacy group, says the new connector is a boondoggle — too costly with little potential for heavy ridership, and constructed at a time when nearly $5 billion in funding is needed for major systemwide improvements to the BART network.

“This is frankly going to serve 1 percent of the daily ridership,” said Joel Ramos, a community planner with TransForm…

TransForm and others also accused BART of not properly evaluating other projects that would intersect with different communities in and around the airport.

The complaint was ultimately sustained, and BART lost some federal funding as a result…

Bay Bridge Official: “We see no reason to delay the opening of the bridge before the shear key fix is completed”

by – excerpt

Top state transportation officials today approved a plan to open the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge on Sept. 3, saying that it’s important for the public’s safety that the new bridge be in operation as soon as possible.
The unanimous vote by the state Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee at a meeting at the MetroCenter in Oakland ends five months of uncertainty about the fate of the bridge after nearly one-third of the 96 bolts that secure earthquake shock absorbers known as shear keys to the deck of the bridge failed when they were tightened in March… (more)

2013 has not been a kind year to San Francisco. Nothing seems to be going well and of all the things that are bad, the Bay Bridge Bolts story may be the most unsettling. Nothing the officials can say will make us feel safe at this point. The running joke in may office is, “where would be rather be in a major quake? The new Bay Bridge, the old Bay Bridge, or the BART tunnel?” The answer is, “Neither.”