A new rail extension and station in Fremont, California is making it more convenient for commuters to ride Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) trains north into Oakland and San Francisco.
The 5.4-mile extension and Warm Springs/South Fremont Station, which includes a combination of aerial, subway and at-grade tracks, opened for service on March 25, one day after a grand opening ceremony heralded the arrival of the new station. The new extension connects to Fremont Station, south of Oakland.
“Prior to the Warm Springs extension, there was no public transportation link to BART in that region; traveling involved driving to Fremont Station, where it was always busy and difficult to get a parking space,” said Tony Murphy, project manager for WSP. “Warm Springs will alleviate the parking problem and reduce traffic on the nearby I-680/I-880 interstate highways.”
WSP provided the BART project with design and construction- phase services on the project, including civil, structural, rail systems and tunnel/geotechnical engineering, design support, right-of-way acquisition support and procurement support.
In addition to the station, the firm undertook preliminary engineering design of two rail lines, three control rooms, five track power facilities, and two box tunnels, including 100 percent design of a one-mile cut-and cover tunnel that travels under Lake Elizabeth in Fremont Central Park. Although the tunnel work was performed underneath the park for about 3 1/2 years, the park and its facilities remained open to the public.
BART anticipates that 6,000-7,000 riders will use the new extension every weekday, taking thousands of cars off the roads. “As the extension gains exposure, usage will likely increase as people recognize how much it can improve their commute,” Murphy said.
Although the extension and station were initially budgeted at $890 million, when the tunnel construction elements were bid the project stayed well below budget, while maintaining high quality. “The result was a savings of about $100 million below what we thought the overall project would cost when initial budget projections were made in 2008,” Murphy said.
The Warm Springs/South Fremont Station provides 2,082 parking spaces and includes 42 solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations. Bike lockers and bike racks were also installed to ensure that the station is fully accessible by pedestrians and cyclists. It also provides a bus transit center to provide easy connections between the trains and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit (AC Transit) buses.
The $54 million intermodal transit hub covers 34 acres and includes photovoltaic panels on the roof and in the parking lots that can generate 512 kilowatt hours of energy – enough to meet the station’s daytime power needs. An eight-acre wetland site was part of the environmental mitigation to offset the impact of the project.
The station’s modern design includes elevators and escalators that improve ease of access to the elevated platform. It also features local artistic elements, including “Sky Cycles,” a colorful art glass display on the station’s curtain walls created by artist Catherine Widgery. The display features abstract designs of local landmarks and fills the station with color throughout the day.
A section of the tunnel near Fremont Central Park that passes by Hayward Fault as well as an adjoining aquifer posed a significant technical challenge. To protect the tunnel from potential earthquake activity, WSP developed an innovative design that included seismic joints and a flexible, self-repairing waterproofing gel that allows the subway box to withstand a major earthquake while maintaining a relatively water-free environment inside the tunnel.
It was windy and rainy on the morning of the grand opening, but the weather didn’t deter hundreds from celebrating the arrival of the new station … and the collaborative effort that made it all possible.
“This was a complex project, so it was important that the design-build design accounted for what the BART stakeholders needed, and that the contractors understood their role,” Murphy said. “Proactive discussions with the contractor and BART, and an approach that involved working in the BART offices, helped us with problem identification and resolution. Personnel consistency helped to keep the owner informed and the project on track.”
WSP had a comprehensive understanding of the design, as well as the technical expertise, so the firm was requested on numerous occasions to undertake site inspections to identify potential problems and make corrections before issues arose.
“Since we knew the design very well, we were able to help BART successfully complete its testing and safety certification and make sure the client’s interests were always at the forefront,” Murphy said.
Although the extension is now open, WSP will continue to work on minor “punch list” projects through the end of the year.
The extension design allows for the potential installation of a future platform station at Irvington, midway between Fremont Station and Warm Springs Station. Future plans also include extension of the rails further south into San Jose and Santa Clara County.
Murphy was grateful to have the opportunity to see this project progress from start to finish. He served in several roles – first as an electrical engineer in 2009, then as systems manager in 2012, and finally as project manager in 2015.
“Warm Springs provided me with a fantastic opportunity to see the project from different perspectives as my connection with it evolved over the years,” he said. “To have the opportunity to watch everything develop from the owner’s side was very helpful. We had a lot of good people from our team who leveraged their expertise to make this project a success.”