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Oakland, California

BART Oakland International Airport Connector

Efficient Passenger Transportation


Flatiron/Parsons Joint Venture (FPJV) designed and constructed the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Oakland International Airport (OAK) Connector, a 3.2-mile-long automated guideway transit (AGT) system that links the Coliseum BART Station to the new OAK Station at the Oakland International Airport. This driverless automated people mover had been in the planning, environmental review, and certification process for more than 25 years; it replaces the former AirBART shuttle bus service. The contract for design and construction was awarded in 2010.

Traveling above traffic, the OAK Connector spans the length of the Hegenberger Road business corridor and uses cable propulsion technology. Four three‑car trains depart every 4 minutes, completing the station-to-airport trip in 10.5 minutes during peak hours. About 3,300 passengers make the trip each day. The system was designed to expand to accommodate four-car trains as demand increases.

The project included three main components:

  • Two passenger stations: Coliseum Station and Airport Station
  • Doolittle Maintenance and Storage Facility
  • Realignment of a 3,500-ft-long bike path

At the Coliseum Station, a pedestrian bridge provides a direct connection for BART patrons arriving at the station and heading to the airport. Internationally acclaimed artist Gordon Huether was selected to create art for the Coliseum Station. His work, titled "A-Round Oakland” consists of 54 rondels placed on the walls of the station. Huether said that the circular pieces of glass represent aerial views of Oakland.

The Airport Station is conveniently located between Terminals 1 and 2, providing easy access for those traveling between the airport and BART. Both stations are designed to showcase the cable propulsion system equipment through perforated metal panels.

The Doolittle Maintenance and Storage Facility houses the four cable drive systems, the power distribution system, the central control center, and vehicle maintenance and wash provisions, as well as administrative, system monitoring, and personnel facilities. In addition, its design will accommodate a future passenger station.

The realigned bike path improves access to Class 1 bike paths and Class 2 bike lanes that link the terminals to the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro as well as to the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Use of Cutting-Edge Technology

Cable propulsion technology allows use of a lighter, more efficient, and aesthetically pleasing steel truss superstructure rather than a heavy concrete superstructure. This alternative reduces the design requirements for the concrete columns and foundations, resulting in a significantly more effective seismic design. In addition, compared to other propulsion methods, cable propulsion technology is highly cost effective to build and reduces operating and maintenance costs while improving reliability.

AGT Maintenance Facility

Project Challenges

As with any project of this magnitude, the FPJV had to overcome several obstacles, including:

  • Working along major thoroughfares
  • Crossing Interstate 880
  • Crossing active railroad tracks
  • Constructing a transition structure between active BART tracks
  • Building a cut-and-cover tunnel under Doolittle Drive while maintaining full traffic at the intersection

We addressed such challenges using an ensemble of innovative techniques. Eighty percent of the AGT system is on an elevated structure with the remainder at-grade, on a U-well, or through a tunnel. The steel trusses were fabricated in the shop and delivered to the site in segments to allow overnight erection and minimize the impact on adjacent streets and tracks. The superstructure rests on concrete columns that are supported on foundations consisting of either concrete piles or large-diameter concrete cast-in-drilled-hole piles.

Outstanding Outcome

By replacing the AirBART shuttle buses with this new AGT system, BART now provides a more seamless connection between the Coliseum Station and the airport, which improves sustainability within the corridor:

  • Reduced traffic noise and congestion
  • Shorter average travel and wait times
  • More frequent service
  • Increased passenger capacity
  • Less air pollution

Entrance to BART OAK Station at Oakland International Airport

In addition to boosting Oakland’s environmental goals, the OAK Connector project created thousands of jobs. It is also remarkably popular, notching a 36.5% increase in ridership compared to the AirBART shuttle bus service that it replaces. And passenger surveys report a 99% approval rating for the new train.

The OAK Connector project has received numerous awards. The FPJV received the 2015 Partnered Project of the Year Award in the Transportation Mega Projects Category ($250 million+) from the International Partnering Institute. This award honors project teams that have achieved exceptional project results, including implementation of partnering best practices that foster high-trust, collaborative working relationships. The OAK Connector project was also named the 2014 Construction Project of the Year by both the California Chapter and San Francisco Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. These prestigious awards further highlight Parsons’ strong commitment to enhancing life through the delivery of innovative engineering and technological solutions. With project experience totaling more than $5 billion for airport automated transit systems, both domestically and internationally, Parsons has intimate knowledge of the processes and the advantages that come with this advanced transit solution.