Archive for the ‘East County’ Category

Please tell CCTA: East County needs freeway from Brentwood to Tracy for long term economic growth

Monday, August 5th, 2019

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is holding Telephone Town Hall Meetings to inform the public of the Initial Draft 2020 Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) and get their input before finalizing the plan and placing another tax measure on the March 2020 ballot to fund it. The meeting for East County will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 8 (see previous post on this website, below)

The plan (www.ccta.net/theplan) currently has a total price tag of $3.061 billion and the tax is in addition to the county’s current half-cent sales tax for transportation from Measure J, which voters approved in 2004 and expires in 2034. The new tax would last until 2050. The CCTA attempted to pass a similar additional half-cent sales tax in 2016, known as Measure X, but it failed. The only new section of roadway in the entire county in that plan was the $117 million “limited access” connector between Vasco Road and the Byron Highway, next to the Byron Airport. Voters overwhelmingly voted against the measure and it failed.

Fortunately, that project was included in the Regional Measure 3 expenditure plan which did pass. But, RM3 didn’t include the long-planned Route 239, the proposed four-lane freeway between Brentwood and Tracy, which will connect East County to Interstate 5, the economic lifeblood artery of the state.

That road has been on the books for over 60 years. But, planning for it only began in 2013 as part of what was known as the TriLink Project, as it crossed the three counties of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and a sliver of Alameda, and was to also include two lines of transit down the middle, connecting the end of the BART line in East County to Tracy.

However, the TriLink Project website is no longer active and neither the four-lane freeway nor the transit lines are included in Contra Costa County’s plans for the next 30 years.

Yet, it’s Route 239 that will ensure East County’s long-term economic viability, allowing current businesses, including agriculture, to get their products to market quicker. Plus, it will open up our area for greater local job creation, and complete what I refer to as the beltway around Mt. Diablo, eliminating the cul-de-sac effect with the three two-lane roads connecting us to the east and south.

Antioch and East County have the freight rail connecting us to the east and west, plus the river connecting us to the world, to move goods. But we only have Highway 4 and BART connecting us to the west for moving people and goods.

Central County folks oppose Route 239 saying it will “induce growth in East County.” But they’ve been saying that for almost 50 years about every new road improvement, including the Hwy 4 Bypass/extension, which we had to fight for over four years from 1994-98 to just get approvals, not any money. In fact, it was that same mindset that prevented Hwy 24 from being extended to East County back in the 1970’s and the result is a surface road with the three names of Ygnacio Valley Road, Kirker Pass and Railroad Avenue, today.

I grew up in Walnut Creek and moved to Antioch because it was more affordable. In fact out of all us who attended the 35th reunion of the Northgate High School Class of ’81 in 2016, only four classmates still lived in Walnut Creek. Where did many move to? East County. So, as I said to my fellow elected officials when I was on a panel during a transportation conference back in the late 1990’s when I was serving on the Antioch City Council and Contra Costa Transportation Authority, don’t blame us for the growth. They had kids and we needed somewhere to live that we could afford. That was East County we were pushing for funding and approvals for Highway 4 widening and the Highway 4 bypass/extension. We received it and those projects are now completed.

It’s time we completed the transportation infrastructure in East County and Route 239 is a key part of it.

Besides, that road won’t induce residential growth. We have the Urban Limit Line to control that. But it will induce economic growth with more local jobs, which is what East County needs.

We need both Route 239 and the transit link between Antioch and Tracy. But, for now, let’s push for funds for the freeway to be included in the county’s new plan. Estimates are it will cost an additional $1 billion. I say add it to the total and let the voters decide.

We need bold leadership from our local elected officials and the voice of “we the people” to make it happen.

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Fleet of the Future BART cars to be assembled in Pittsburg

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Fleet of the Future BART car at the Pittsburg assembly plant during the recent press conference. Photo by BART.

Bombardier Transportation announced it is opening a rail car assembly site in Pittsburg, California to assemble BART’s Fleet of the Future rail cars.  This work, which is currently taking place in upstate New York, will be transferred to the Bay Area over the coming months.

The new facility will employ local workers, contribute tax dollars to the local economy and, thanks to its proximity to BART’s Hayward Test Track, greatly reduce the vehicle emissions needed to transport the cars to BART property.

What used to be a 3,600-mile journey home to the Bay Area, will now be a quick 50 miles.

It also means local jobs.

“It’s Bay Area workers building cars for Bay Area commuters,” said BART Director Mark Foley. “Bringing the work home.”

Watch the Press Conference

Riders are giving the new trains high marks for its new features and design. The customer survey results were unveiled at a recent Board meeting. The vast majority of features received at least 85 percent “Excellent” or “Good” grades.

Some of its most well-received features were the ease of on-board and off-boarding the train; lighting; audio announcements; floor-to-ceiling poles; comfortable air temperature; and digital displays.

BART’s website dedicated to the Fleet of the Future has lots of great information about the status of the roll out. They keep it updated with the number of new cars delivered to date and the number in service.

A Fleet of the Future tracker is in the works that will show you if one of the next approaching trains at your stations is a new train. That feature will roll out in phases, to eventually include digital platform signs, bart.gov, and the BART Official App, which you can download for free.

 

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Student at Antioch’s Givans Taekwondo on track for 2020 Olympics

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

C.J. Nickolas with gold medal from the 2018 World Taekwondo Federation competition in Greece. Photo courtesy of Ed Givans.

C.J. Nickolas, a senior in high school and a student at Givans Taekwondo in Antioch, is headed to Taekwondo Senior World Championships in Manchester, England later this m onth. He had to withdraw from Heritage High in Brentwood two days into his senior year because he was one of eight athletes in the United States to be picked up by the USA Taekwondo (USAT) to train full time abroad and enter the European Taekwondo Open circuit. The  intention is to get those athletes ready for 2024 or 2028 Olympics.

However, Nickolas has defied the odds, outperformed the initial expectations, and is headed to the World Championships this year. A few other things have to fall into place for him to make it to the 2020 Olympics, but he is definitely on track.

Nickolas is the son of Edward Givans, owner of Givans Taekwondo in Antioch, where Nickolas trains, and Denise Nickolas of Brentwood.

“His mom and I are very proud of C.J.,” the elder Givans said. “It’s been exciting to see him advance in his skills and the competitions.”

Arriving at this place in his life was not happenstance or luck for Nickolas. He has put long hours, and extensive time into training over the years. Nickolas has made many sacrifices to get where he is and says that even in the setbacks and losses and injuries, he knows he has to continue the grind. He says he digs deep when it’s tough and keeps pressing his way.

Nickolas is finishing out his high school through an on-line school (CAVA) while he continues to train full time.

His travels in the past six months have taken him to compete in Greece, Poland, France, Croatia, Africa and Spain among other places.

He has one stop in Bulgaria before he heads back to England to train for Worlds. Then Nickolas will continue his grind to get to the coming Olympics.

Allen Payton contributed to this story.

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Coroner’s inquest finds Antioch man shot by Pittsburg police died “at the hands of another person, other than by accident”

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Terry Amons in July, 2017 from his Facebook profile.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston announced that a Coroner’s jury has reached a finding in the January 12, 2018 death of Terry Dean Amons, Jr. who was shot by Pittsburg Police. The finding of the jury is that the death is “at the hands of another person, other than by accident.” See related Antioch Herald article.)

The Coroner’s jury reached a verdict after hearing the testimony of witnesses called by the hearing officer, Matthew Guichard.

A Coroner’s inquest, which Sheriff-Coroner Livingston convenes in fatal incidents involving peace officers, is a public hearing, during which a jury rules on the manner of a person’s death. Jury members can choose from the following four options when making their finding: accident,

suicide, natural Causes, or at the hands of another person, other than by accident.

See a KRON4 news report about Amons’ death.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Keller Canyon Landfill/Hunters Point Naval Shipyard radiation probe agitates East County residents

Monday, June 25th, 2018

By Daniel Borsuk

Some 400 Bay Point and Pittsburg residents exited a community meeting at Ambrose Community Center with more questions than answers Thursday night about stories that radioactive materials had been mistakenly delivered to the Keller Canyon Landfill, located in southeast Pittsburg off of Baily Road. (See related article).

With representatives from county, regional, and state agencies and the Navy in attendance, but no one on hand from TetraTec, the contractor responsible for the removal of nuclear waste material from the former shipyard, residents learned that TetraTec has rejected a request to pick up the bill to pay for an independent investigation into how radioactive material waste entered the landfill on at least two instances.

Those two documented instances where radioactive materials from the shipyard were delivered to the landfill included the January 2014 case when 42 trucks dumped tainted soil with elevated lead.  The case was not considered to be an RCRA hazardous waste situation.  “All contaminated soil was removed from Keller Canyon Landfill,” said    Scott Anderson a Deputy Base Closure Manager of the U.S. Navy Base Realignment. “The Navy wants the community to know that the public is safe.”

In another instance, February 2015, Anderson said the Navy cleaned up at Keller Canyon Landfill after 218 tons of radioactive asphalt that had been delivered to the landfill.   “All the asphalt plus 102 tons of dirt were removed,” he said.

Residents were uncomfortable with the responses that the Navy, and especially Rick King, general manager of Keller Canyon Landfill, offered.  King defended how the landfill properly screens trucks loads with debris from multiple departure points, including Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

Some speakers like Jeanette Burgess questioned if the landfill operator rigged the monitors at the entrance to allow truck laden with radioactive materials to enter.   “I question your testers,” she said.

“I don’t know where you get your information,” rebutted King, who defended how the Republic Services Co. personnel monitors the testers and that they meet regulations.

Contra Costa County Environmental Health Director Marilyn Underwood said while there is the possibility Republic Services, operator of the Keller Canyon Landfill, might have to redraft an environmental impact report, she said the county is in the midst of searching for an independent consultant to assess the two documented events as well as other potential radioactive deliveries.

Supervisor Federal Glover, whose District 5 includes Keller Canyon Landfill, urged attendees to ask questions.  “Don’t leave here without asking your questions,” he said.  “We’re trying to get an independent investigation. We’re trying to get the information.”

Since TetraTec has refused to pick up the tab to pay for the independent investigation, Dr. Underwood of the county environmental health department said Supervisor Glover is looking into other potential sources to pay for the investigation.

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Supervisor Glover wants investigation into possible radioactive materials deposited at Keller Canyon Landfill in Pittsburg

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Keller Canyon Landfill. Photo courtesy of Comanco.

Matter to be heard at next Tuesday’s Board meeting

Supervisor Federal Glover has directed Contra Costa County Staff at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to provide the Board with an update concerning the allegations of malfeasance by Tetra Tech EC Inc. at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. The allegations concern possible radioactive materials being deposited at landfills across the state including possible contaminated material that might have been sent to the Keller Canyon Landfill.
“I am very concerned about these allegations and want a full report from staff on this issue,” Glover stated.  Healso said that he expects County staff to follow up with further review of the issue after the Board meeting next Tuesday.

“I want staff to thoroughly investigate these allegations and determine whether or not the Keller Landfill was sent contaminated material,” Glover continued. “I want to make sure the residents of Contra Costa County are protected and that this matter is fully addressed.”

He said that the matter will be heard in front of the Board of Supervisors during its regularly scheduled session starting at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2018 in the Board Chambers at 651 Pine St., Martinez.

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2nd Annual Larry Damitz Memorial Race on tap at Antioch Speedway Saturday night

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Larry Damitz #15 after one of his wins in 2016. Damitz was a five-time Limited Late Model champion and was recently inducted into the Vallejo Sports Hall Of Fame. Photo by Paul Gould.

By Don Martin II

The Antioch Speedway roars back into action this Saturday night with an exciting six division All Star Series program honoring the late Larry Damitz. Featured divisions this weekend include the Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modified, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.

In recent seasons, the division of choice for Damitz, who was racing well into his 80s, was the Limited Late Models. In his final seven seasons at Antioch, he won five championships and finished second in those other two seasons. He won over 50 Main Events in his illustrious career at Antioch Speedway alone, and he was also recently inducted into the Vallejo Sports Hall Of Fame.

For The Limited Late Model racers, this event is for them. They spent many years trying to beat the orange and blue #15 car, wheeled impressively by Damitz. Last season, it was Kimo Oreta taking the wheel and making sure the Sun Drop Racing team maintained their championship status. Though he was very consistent and won multiple races, he still had to fight off the challenges of 2013 champion Jim Freethy and Mark Garner.

Freethy and Garner are both expected to contend for this year’s championship. Garner was doing double division duty last season, but he has put his B Modified up for sale in order to focus on his Limited Late Model effort. The man who has won more Main Events in this division at Antioch than anybody else, Mike Gustafson, will be another driver to watch out for. He was a two-time feature winner last season. Chris Long is anticipated in the John Keith car, and other drivers to watch for include John Evans, Lori Brown, Chad Hammer and Ryan Cherezian.

The A Modified division kicked off their 2018 season two weeks ago with Nick DeCarlo scoring the impressive victory. DeCarlo tends to bounce from track to track, but he has championships to his credit at Watsonville and Petaluma. A decision on Nick’s behalf to compete for the Antioch crown would certainly make him a top threat. Reigning champion Bobby Motts Jr notched the second place finish at the opener as he attempts a title defense. Five time division champion Scott Busby has his eyes on a track record 73 career feature wins, and other drivers to watch for this week include Sean O’Gara, rookie Buddy Kniss, hard charger Trent Wentworth, Mike Salazar and Bobby Montalvo.

Fred Ryland might have been a surprise entrant at the opener as he was the 2017 Merced Speedway champion. However, he picked up right where he left off with another Antioch win. The 2015 Antioch champion, who also has a Hobby Stock championship to his credit, is rapidly approaching 50 career feature wins. Ryland’s presence in the field makes things very interesting and helps make Antioch one of the most exciting B Modified programs in the state. Other drivers to watch for in the field include 2016 champion Trevor Clymens, 2017 champion KC Keller, past Street Stock champion Todd Gomez, past Hobby Stock champion Guy Ahlwardt and Tommy Fraser.

The Wingless Spec Sprint division enters its 20th season on the roster, and it appears as if 2004 champion Bob Newberry has his sights set on the championship. Newberry won more Main Events than anybody last season before settling for third in the standings. Another driver to keep an eye on is the only driver to have competed in all 20 seasons in this division, 2017 runnerup Rick Panfili. A competitive group of racers in this class includes Alan Miranda, Roy Fisher, Shannon Newton, Brandon Burd, Abigail Gonderman, Adam Teves, James East and Bryan Grier, who hasn’t officially said if he’s attempting a title defense this year.

The Hobby Stock division continues to have a strong presence at the speedway. In the opener, Michael Cooper looked very impressive in scoring the win, leaving the battle for second between reigning champion Cameron Swank and 2010 champion Chris Sorensen. Past Super Hobby Stock and Figure 8 champion Jim Robbins threw his hat into the ring this year and looked very fast in the opener. Likewise, Chris Bennett also figures to be in line for his first career feature win. Other drivers to watch for this week include Jordan Swank, Travis Tabucchi, Ricky Foster, Josh Leach, Russell Shearer and Haley Gomez.

There was plenty of disappointment to go around in the Dwarf Car community after the rain out canceled what was sure to be a big event last week. Regardless, Mike Corsaro enters the season as the reigning champion. Corsaro may very well be the driver to beat this year as he has become very consistent in recent seasons. David Michael Rosa is knocking on the door to his first career feature win and may be another driver to watch in the championship hunt. Other drivers to watch for this week include last season’s top rookie, Devan Kammermann, Brian Gray, David Rosa, Charlie Correia and 2016 champion Kevin Miraglio.

It looks as if the weather will open a window and allow this exciting six division program to unfold. For further information on this and other happenings, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.

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Los Medanos College to hold groundbreaking ceremony for new Brentwood Center

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Los Medanos College (LMC) will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Brentwood Center on Wednesday, April 18, at 1:00 p.m. at the site of the future facility.  The new site is located at Pioneer Square and Miwok Place in Brentwood (near the intersection of Vineyards Parkway and Marsh Creek Road, just off of Highway 4).  The public is welcome to attend and the event is free; RSVPs are not required, and complimentary parking will be available.

This groundbreaking ceremony celebrates upcoming construction of a permanent Brentwood Center, which will expand and enhance learning opportunities for LMC students and Contra Costa County residents in the easternmost part of the College’s service area.  The new one-story Center, designed by Ratcliff Architects, will be approximately 55,000 square feet.  The project will be constructed on a 17.5 parcel purchased by Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) in 2011.  It will feature instructional classrooms, science labs, student support services, library resources, tutorial labs, bookstore and food service areas, “linger and learn” space, faculty/staff offices, and more than 700 parking stalls.  The current Brentwood Center, located in a leased facility at 101A Sand Creek Road in Brentwood, first opened in 2001.  The existing space consists of 22,000 square feet and serves approximately 2,800 students – accounting for about one-third of LMC’s enrollment.

The permanent $65 million facility is made possible through funding from CCCCD Bond Measures A (2006) and E (2014), thanks to support from voters in Contra Costa County.  Construction is expected to be completed in 18-24 months, with the new Brentwood Center projected to open in Spring 2020.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Adams, [email protected] or (925) 473-7302.

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