BART officials said Wednesday that track work aimed at making their transit system safer, quieter and more reliable will require them to close the Lake Merritt station in Oakland this weekend.
BART spokesman Jim Allison said the electrical and track work will begin after midnight on Friday and continue until 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
Allison said the work will affect passengers traveling on the Warm Springs, Dublin/Pleasanton, and Oakland airport lines and means that no trains will run between the 19th Street and Fruitvale stations in Oakland or between the West Oakland and Fruitvale stations during that period.
Joining Allison and other BART officials at a news conference Wednesday at a maintenance facility near the Lake Merritt station, Shane Edwards, BART's assistant chief mechanical and engineering officer, said the shutdown will allow crews to accomplish in one weekend work that normally would take them eight weeks.
Edwards said BART crews require the extra time this weekend because they can't complete the critical repairs during the overnight hours when the transit system is normally closed for maintenance.
Edwards said 430 employees will replace tracks and upgrade electrical systems and also do other vital maintenance and repair work.
Edwards said the work this weekend will be concentrated between the Lake Merritt and 19th Street stations and will include installing 3,100 feet of welded rail, replacing 1,000 feet of restraining wheel, which acts as a guardrail for train wheels, and installing 3,000 feet of conduit to protect traction power cable.
He said the work also will include replacing 150 electrical insulators that prevent electricity from escaping into the ground and being wasted, replacing train communication circuitry between the 12th Street and MacArthur stations in Oakland and installing new signs at the Lake Merritt station.
Tamar Allen, BART's chief mechanical and engineering officer, said the work this weekend is part of a $400 million infrastructure replace and repair mission around the Bay Area that's funded by Measure RR, the $3.5 billion bond measure approved by voters this past November.
Allen said those projects include replacing 20 miles of worn trackway, waterproofing BART's leaking tunnels and structures and replacing platform and street escalators in downtown San Francisco, work which she said will include canopies to protect the street escalators from the environment.
BART Assistant General Manager Paul Oversier said northbound passengers traveling to the Lake Merritt station on the Warm Springs/South Fremont, Dublin/Pleasanton and Oakland airport lines will have to get off at the Fruitvale station and take free shuttle buses provided by AC Transit to the 19th Street station in order to travel to San Francisco, Richmond or Pittsburg/Bay Point.
Oversier said passengers coming from the Peninsula, San Francisco, Richmond and Pittsburg/Bay Point will have to get off at the 19th Street station and take a free AC Transit shuttle to the Fruitvale station.
He said BART passengers traveling through the Lake Merritt station area should allow an extra 20 to 40 minutes to make the transfers, especially passengers who are raveling to the Oakland International Airport.
Oversier said BART will have about 50 employees each day this weekend to help passengers who are making the transfers but he added that passengers can also consider using a station that's not affected by the bus bridge, such as the West Oakland or MacArthur stations.
Oversier said the Richmond line will be running all weekend, which means there will be more frequent service between the East Bay, San Francisco, and the Peninsula.