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Last Weekend Before Election Day Roundup

A diagram of the air flow system inside a BART train. Image: BART

A few short updates to start out the last weekend before the election. Oh, and if you haven't done it already: VOTE!

BART update on counter COVID tech

Despite some early sophistry, there's no evidence that COVID is spread more easily on transit versus any other indoor activities, assuming basic precautions are heeded. That said, transit agencies are still obligated to assure that airflow onboard trains and buses is as fresh and virus-free as possible.

That's why BART is piloting higher-grade filters and virus-killing UV lights inside their HVACs. "The pilot uses MERV-14s, which can capture particles between .3 and 1 microns,” said Ben Holland, BART Manager of Vehicle Systems Engineering, in a statement. Currently, BART uses a slightly less fine filter (MERV-8, to be exact) on its train HVACs. Their worry was that the higher-grade filters might decrease airflow or clog too easily, but the results show they work fine, so they'll be switching to the higher-grade filters.

In addition, there was concern that the retrofitted UV lights they put in the train's under-floor HVAC units would come dislodged from their mounts over time. "So far, there’s no sign of that," said Holland. Moreover, “We put it over a pit, looked at the inside, and it was working just perfectly,” he said. “The UV light comes on when it’s supposed to. The safety features that are in place are working well.”

The hope is to start mounting the disinfecting lights on all trains.

Meanwhile, the transit agency reminds people to social distance and wear masks.

Progress on South Bayfront Bike-Ped Bridge in Emeryville

A rendering of the new bridge. Photo: Emeryville
A rendering of the new bridge. Photo: Emeryville
A rendering of the new bridge. Photo: Emeryville

"You can't get there from here" is retort one normally associates with the East Coast. But it also happens to be true in the East Bay, in Emeryville, on Horton Street, where some nine sets of railroad tracks cut pedestrians and cyclists off from housing, shops, the water, and the easiest route to the Bay Bridge. A project to fix this reached a major milestone this week when the large, prefabbed parts for a new pedestrian and bicycle span arrived from offsite.

Emeryville Councilmember John Bauters tweeted about the arrival of the parts that will be assembled into the bridge:

From an Emeryville release about a bike and ped bridge project under construction across the rail yard:

The South Bayfront Bridge will connect Ohlone Way and the Bay Street area with Horton Street across the tracks. The bridge will span 227 feet and pass over Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way.... The City of Emeryville is building a new bridge over Union Pacific Railroad tracks for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as an adjacent park. Construction started January 6, 2020 and is expected to finish Fall 2021.

For now, the only options for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the railroad tracks are circuitous, either over the Shellmound hill near Ikea, by climbing stairs at the Amtrak station, or by going all the way north to 65th street [Update/correction: there's also apparently a precarious way to do it on Powell... Streetsblog will have to check this out ASAP]. Once completed, this bridge will go a long way towards connecting housing, shopping, and recreation for people who walk or bike.

Check out the revised plans for San Jose's Station

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BART, electrified Caltrain, more ACE and Amtrak service, VTA... and eventually High Speed Rail. Diridon Station in San Jose is going to see a whole lot of new service in the next few years. The city of San Jose has been preparing a major upgrade and redesign for the station, including better access for cyclists and pedestrians, the construction of adjacent housing, more retail, etc. The latest draft is now available for public comment, with some amendments: the city is no longer planning for a major league ballpark, Google has begun planning for an adjacent mixed-use development, and the City Council directed staff to prepare an Affordable Housing Implementation Plan for the Diridon area.

Check out the changes and make your comments HERE.

And one last time: if you still haven't done it, VOTE! Check out Streetsblog's endorsements HERE.

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