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TBT: BART Richmond line begins service Jan. 29, 1973

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A color view of the El Cerrito Plaza station before the opening of the Richmond line in
January 1973. (Photo courtesy El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce).

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BART rolls into the El Cerrito Plaza station on the first (and rainy) day of service on the
Richmond line on Jan. 29, 1973.

The Richmond line of the BART system began operation 44 years ago this week, on Jan. 29, 1973.  The first portion of the system, Oakland to Fremont, opened on Sept. 11, 1972, and other legs were rolled out in succession, with the Richmond-Fremont line being the second. (Concord followed in May 1973.)

BART ran along the Santa Fe Railroad right of way through Albany and El Cerrito and Santa Fe service continued until 1979, meaning a double dose of train watching or disruptive noise, depending on your point of view.

Abandonment by Santa Fe of the right of way led to the creation of the Ohlone Greenway, cited by BART as an early example of cooperative development of the communities it would be serving: “BART’s widely-known ‘linear park,’ for example, was constructed under the aerial right-of-way through Albany and El Cerrito to demonstrate how function could combine with aesthetics to enhance community environments.”

The story of the transit district’s rather unlikely road to reality is told in the new book “BART: The Dramatic History of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System,” authored by retired transit district spokesman Michael C. Healy and published by Heyday Books of Berkeley.

Here are some views of the opening of the Richmond line and the development along the way.

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Groundbreaking for the downtown Berkeley station in 1966.

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Elevated track under construction in Albany in 1968.

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Excavation on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley in 1969.

Officials conduct a tree planting at the future Del Norte station in El Cerrito along what would become the Ohlone Greenway in 1969.

Officials conduct a tree planting at the future Del Norte station in El Cerrito along what would become the Ohlone Greenway in 1969.

 

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Passengers at the Richmond station await the arrival of the first train in January 1973.

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The inaugural train on the line arrives at the Richmond BART station.

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Richmond-bound train arrives at the El Cerrito Plaza in the rain on the first day of service.

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A postcard view of the downtown Berkeley station from 1974. The station is now undergoing
extensive remodeling.

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BART under construction in Albany in 1968.

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Overnight closure of I-80 in Richmond and San Pablo set for June 18

Interstate 80 will be closed in both directions between Barrett Avenue in Richmond and San Pablo Dam Road in San Pablo from 11 p.m. June 18 to 7 a.m. June 19, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority is warning.
The closure allows work on the major project to upgrade the congested San Pablo Dam Road/I-80 interchange.
“These closures will enable crews to grade (properly adjust and align) falsework recently constructed for a new pedestrian overcrossing at Riverside Avenue, which will replace the current overcrossing.When complete, the new overcrossing will extend across Amador Street, enhancing safety for Riverside Elementary School students and the community.”
A map of local detour routes around the closed portion is below.

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For more details call the project hotline at 510-277-0444 or visit http://ccta.net/SanPabloDamRoad. Construction updates will also be posted to Twitter at @i80spdr.

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Video: El Cerrito tolerance celebration includes moment of silence for Orlando shooting victims

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El Cerrito Mayor Greg Lyman welcomes celebrants to the city’s first Loving Day observance at City Hall on June 12, 2016, and asks for a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting the day before in Orlando, Florida. He also explains the significance of the city celebrating a court ruling allowing interracial marriage by noting that Dorothy Clark and Sundar Shadi were forced to go from California to Nevada to legally marry in 1934 before returning to their home in El Cerrito.

Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto of El Cerrito’s Human Relations Commission explains the history of Loving Day and the landmark court decision behind it at the city’s first Loving Day observance at City Hall on June 12, 2016.

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Tilden Regional Park steam trains celebrating 64 years this weekend

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The popular steam trains in Tilden Regional Park known collectively as the Redwood Valley Railway will celebrate 64 years of operation this weekend.
“All four engines will be steamed up both days including guest engines from our sister railroads,” the railway volunteers say.
The celebration is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 4 and 5 at the Tilden Park Steam Train off Grizzly Peak Boulevard at Lomas Cantadas Road.

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Eastshore Highway, ancestor of Interstate 80, officially dedicated in El Cerrito 79 years ago this week

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The granddaddy of the Bay Area freeway system was dedicated 79 years ago this week at a ceremony at San Pablo Avenue and Hill Street in El Cerrito on May 27, 1936. The Eastshore was the first newly built highway in the Bay Area, constructed to handle traffic heading to the new Bay Bridge and Oakland and relieve the increasing volume on San Pablo Avenue. At the time it was dedicated it was described as “one of the most modern and finest stretches of roadway in California.”
Modern or not, the highway saw continual upgrades almost from the time it was completed. The highway was expanded from two lanes to three in each direction and in 1940 stoplights were added at the entrances on Ashby and University avenues in Berkeley.
Then as now, officials in Berkeley were hard-pressed to figure out how to handle the complex interchange at Gilman Street.
In 1942 a second roadway branching off at Albany and originally dubbed the Shipyard Highway, was created using more Bay fill to handle the volume of traffic from defense workers going to the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond. That roadway is now a portion of Interstate 580 and connects to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
The Eastshore Highway became the Eastshore Freeway in the 1950s, expanded and extended through West Contra Costa to the Carquinez Bridge. Today the successor to the cornerstone of the Bay Area freeway system is 10 lanes wide, with dedicated carpool lanes, yet it consistently ranks at or near the top of the most congested freeways in the Bay Area.

Eastshore Highway under construction in 1934.
Original caption: “S. F.. BRIDGES.. S. F. OAKLAND; E. B. FILL LEADING TOWARD BERKELEY” from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

Eastshore Highway April 1936.
Original caption: “This aerial view looking north toward Berkeley from the Distribution Structure of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge shows the Berkeley Fill which will be completed in time for the opening of the great bridge to automobile traffic early in November. Highway engineers under the direction of C. H. Purcell, Chief Engineer of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and State Highway Engineer, are designing this approach to be one of the finest and safest arterials in California.” From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

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With the Bay fill in place the contracts to build the actual highway were awarded in June of 1936.

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Contractors ran into trouble in August of 1936 when a portion of the fill collapsed.

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Berkeley took advantage of the newly enclosed area to the east of the highway by creating Aquatic Park in 1936.

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Workers construct Aquatic Park in Berkeley in 1935.

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Berkeley also extended Gilman Street to the highway, awarding a paving contract in October 1936 to provide another entrance.

Eastshore Highway 1938.
Original caption: “Division of the Eastshore Highway approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with a medial strip was the Bay Region’s most important recent contribution toward the cause of accident prevention, in the opinion of traffic experts. The result has been a minimum of collisions on one of the most heavily traveled thoroughfares in Northern California.”
From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

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The portion of the Eastshore Highway north of University Avenue took longer to construct because it ran inland from the Bay and had to cross railroad tracks, which required construction of a bridge by Albany Hill and digging through hills in the Richmond Annex. Above is the elevated roadway at Albany Hill, along with Albany’s original entrance to the highway at Pierce Street.

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Albany quickly found out that there were problems with the entrance at Pierce Street, including visibility, the volume of traffic and cars driving the wrong direction on the one-way route to the on-ramp.

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The first crash on the new portion of the highway was recorded in July of 1937.

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This September 1937 aerial view from the Oakland Tribune shows the original route of the highway.

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Crockett: Lane reductions and ramp closures scheduled on Carquinez, Zampa bridges

Caltrans has issued the following announcement about Interstate 80 resurfacing work that will mean Lane reductions and ramp closures on the Carquinez, Zampa bridges tonight through May 26:

Nighttime Lane/Ramp Closures Scheduled for Interstate 80 (I-80) Carquinez Bridge –
May 19 through May 26

Crockett/Vallejo, Calif. – Caltrans is conducting work for a project to resurface Interstate 80 (I-80) across the Carquinez and Zampa Bridges between Crockett in Contra Costa County and Vallejo in Solano County.

The following closures will impact I-80 eastbound and westbound across the Carquinez and Zampa Bridges nightly:

• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Thursday May 19 at 8:00 PM until Friday May 20 at 5:00 AM.

• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Friday May 20 at 11:00 PM until Saturday May 21 at 10:00 AM.

• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Monday May 23 through Thursday May 26 from 8:00 PM until 5:00 AM the following day.

• The on ramp to I-80 eastbound at Pomona Street in Crockett may be closed intermittently for the same time periods. Motorists will detour to Cummings Skyway.

More information is available at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/carquinezzampabridgesmaint/

Motorists should drive with caution through the work zone. Get real-time traffic on Caltrans Quickmaps: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ Or follow Caltrans on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CaltransD4. Caltrans appreciates your patience as we work to maintain California’s highways. Please #BeWorkZoneAlert.

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Another mountain lion sighting reported in El Cerrito

Something to keep in mind if you’re out on a morning walk or jog, or even just rolling you collection bin down to the curb. An El Cerrito resident reported in an online neighborhood group that she saw a mountain lion while walking her dog a little after 6 a.m. on March 15 at Stockton Avenue and Balra Drive. The location is in the hills, but only a block (as the crow flies or the lion prowls) from Cerrito Vista Park and Korematsu Middle School, and about four blocks from El Cerrito High School.
Deer and turkeys are common in the area and could be attractive game.