Construction crews broke ground Monday on the first phase of the Vasco Road Safety Improvement Project in eastern Contra Costa County.
The first phase of the project will include widening and installing a median barrier on a 1-mile stretch of the road in the southernmost section in Contra Costa County, a section considered one of the most treacherous.
Crews will also be extending a passing lane, building drainage culverts, constructing retaining walls and widening a bridge.
The second phase of the project will extend the safety improvements for 1.5 more miles, making the total scope of the project about 2.5 miles, Supervisor Mary Piepho said.
Funding for the first phase, which is expected to cost about $8.5 million, is coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Piepho said. Funding for the second phase will also come from stimulus funds, as well as a federal earmark, local Measure J and statewide Proposition 1B, Piepho said.
The road, which is a major commute corridor between Brentwood and Oakley in Contra Costa County and Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore in Alameda County, has been the site of numerous fatal accidents over the past decade.
Between 1996 and 2008, 16 people were killed in crashes on Contra Costa County's portion of the road, Piepho said.
Fatal accidents decreased dramatically in the past two years when the California Highway Patrol instated a double-fine zone and increased enforcement, but at least one person has been killed on the road since the safety measures were put in place.
Improvements to the portion of the road that is in Alameda County have already been completed.