LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) — Weekend work on the BART tracks Saturday triggered massive delays, not only with trains between Orinda and Walnut Creek but also along Highway 24.
The Highway 24 lane closures started last night, and were scheduled to continue until early Monday morning. Meanwhile, a bus bridge was in place between the Orinda and Walnut Creek stations in both directions.
“Orinda BART Shuttle, takes you to San Francisco and all East Bay locations,” shouts a BART worker who is helping riders find the buses.
“I didn’t plan the extra time or anything,” said Jennifer Nielsen, who was taking BART from Oakland to Walnut Creek. “I heard one of those things, something about if you’re going this way, plan an extra 40 minutes, and I’m like, what are they talking about? Then I found out.”
Construction crews will be working all weekend at the Lafayette station, so instead of taking a train from Walnut Creek – riders have to take a bus.
“The only nightmare was the traffic on the way here, but we got here,” said Gerald Forgerson, who riding BART from San Francisco to Antioch.
“There’s never a great time for a track shut down,” said BART spokesman Chris Filippi. “There just isn’t. We’re trying to find the least worst option available to do this sort of work.”
BART is also replacing almost a mile of track near the Lafayette station. The track being taken out is original to the system when it opened in 1972.
The only way to update the track is to set up a massive 265-ton crane in the eastbound lanes of Highway 24. The lane closures backed up traffic for almost 3 miles on Saturday.
“A track shut down and impacting eastbound lanes was the only way to do this work in a safe manor, and to finish the work in a time expedient way,” said Filippi.
The Oakland Athletics played the Houston Astros at the Coliseum Saturday afternoon. First pitch was just after 1:00 p.m. Some fans didn’t know they’d be delayed coming back.
“This is the first we’re hearing about it. What kind of delay are we looking at?” asked Astros fan, Travis Roberts.
KPIX asked Filippi, the same question. “Expect delays of more than 40 minutes,” he answered.
“Oh, that’s OK. Worth it for the game!” said Roberts.
“I’m a big baseball fan so it would take more than an hour delay to keep me from going to a game,” said Carrig Scully, who was also going to the game.
The plan is to keep two lanes of Highway 24 shut down in Lafayette through the majority of the weekend, but if the traffic backup grows to more than 30 minutes, CalTrans will open one additional lane to allow the backup to clear.
CalTrans recommends taking Highway 4 to avoid the traffic on Highway 24.
As of Saturday evening, the project for this weekend was still on schedule and both lanes of Highway 24 were scheduled to be open by Monday morning at 7:00 a.m. The next scheduled closure is over Labor Day weekend.