Pleasanton residents who have witnessed the new West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station taking shape in the middle of Interstate 580 will have to wait another year for it to open. Transit officials are now saying the weldings of steel pieces to be used in the pedestrian walkways aren't up to standard.
Initially slated to open later this year, the station is now looking at a late 2010, early 2011 completion and an additional $2.5 million added to the total cost due to welding problems.
The problems lie in the welding of the metal that will be used in the walkways connecting riders from both the Pleasanton and Dublin sides of the freeway to the station.
It was discovered in June 2008 by Caltrans, which has oversight for the project, according to BART spokeswoman Luna Salaver.
Caltrans determined that the welds didn't meet the proper safety requirements and could not be repaired. The state transportation agency's standards differ from BART's, and it doesn't appear the weldings were unsafe, but rather they didn't meet the stricter standards.
Two of the steel trusses currently lie near parking structures on the Pleasanton and Dublin sides and another two are located near the I-580-I-680 interchange.
"The delay started in June 2008, so we worked with the contractors, the inspectors, Caltrans and the developers to do a complete analysis of this weld situation, and only after that thorough analysis was done, there was a decision made that the most cost-effective path forward would be to rebuild the trusses," Salaver said.
New steel products will cost up to $2.5 million. Salaver said BART has hired a contractor to oversee the construction of the walkways to make sure they meet standards.
"They're going to construct new walkways and as the welds are done, BART and BART contractors as well as Caltrans will be monitoring quality control and quality assurance," she said.
It's unclear who is paying for the additional cost to the $87.5-million project. Salaver said BART is working with all of the agencies involved to determine who will be held financially responsible.
"It's not settled at this point in time, but we are working diligently so it doesn't affect the taxpayers," she said.
The project was developed as a public-private partnership, with $57.5 million stemming from bonds BART sold, $14 million in grants and $15 million in land-generated revenues, Salaver said.
The city of Pleasanton entered into a funding agreement in 2006 along with the city of Dublin and the Alameda County Surplus Property Authority that allows BART to draw from a reserve fund at the time the transit agency was selling construction bonds, according to Dave Culver, who is Pleasanton's finance director.
"What this agreement calls for is it obligates each entity for providing some reserve funding that BART can access should their operating revenues fall short of their expenses, including debt service," Culver said.
Out of a total commitment of $8 million between all of those agencies, half has been set aside to BART. The remaining $4 million will be allotted when the project is completed. Pleasanton's share is a total of $1 million ($500,000 of which has already been set aside) that comes from funds the city collects in transportation development fees to be used toward reducing traffic congestion.
"Up to this point, since (the project) didn't open on time, (BART officials) have notified everyone that they will draw down $1.5 million from that reserve fund for debt service on their bonds," Culver said.
The station is now 75 percent complete. The walkways had been less than 10 percent complete, Salaver said. Two parking structures, one on each side of the freeway in Pleasanton and Dublin, are 95 percent finished.
Once fully built, the new station, located in the median of I-580 between Golden Gate Road in Dublin and Stoneridge Mall Road in Pleasanton, will provide an additional stop in the current 10-mile gap between the East Dublin/Pleasanton and Castro Valley stations.
As part of the station project, a new transit village was planned on the Dublin side to include a 150-room hotel, 210-unit apartment complex and retail/office space. On the Pleasanton side, the City Council approved last September a 350-unit apartment complex described as a transit-oriented development to reduce freeway congestion that was slated to coincide with the opening of the station. Part of that development also included 14,000 square feet of retail space, where developers had hoped to house a grocery store.
But earlier this year, the developer of those projects, San Diego-based Windstar Communities, said those would be pushed back due to the economic downturn. Windstar Vice President Eric Heffner said the hotel may not be a viable option anymore.
Bob Russell, a principal for Oakland-based Ampelon Development Group, which acted as the master developer on the project, said a portion of land in Dublin that was slated for the apartments has now gone back to a lender, but the parcel's status is unclear.
Windstar still controls the other portions of the project including the hotel and retail space in Dublin and the residential development in Pleasanton, but is holding off for now on developing it.
"Like anyone, they're waiting for better market conditions to start with new construction," Russell said.
Pamela Ott, Pleasanton's economic development director, said the city understands the station's delay and believes once built, it will spur future economic growth.
"Whenever the new West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station does open it will certainly be a benefit to that area of town, providing a transportation option to the employees and residents located around Stoneridge Shopping Center," Ott said. "We know, too, that the new station will help to alleviate some of the parking impacts at the existing station."