Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza Set to Be Refurbished

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The heart of Berkeley's transportation hub will be virtually transformed after the city received a $1.8 million grant from the Metropolitan Transit Commission Wednesday to refurbish the Downtown BART Plaza.

The new money will go toward tearing out the brick plaza between Center Street and Allston Way, replacing it with a more open and permeable concrete design, complete with space for concerts, a new green stormwater filtration system near the plaza, a larger bus shelter for riders and a retrofit to the rotunda above the BART station.

According to Kara Vuicich, an associate planner with the city, the entire project will cost the city close to $2.25 million, with $400,000 coming from the money provided in the UC Long Range Development Plan Settlement Agreement and $51,250 from BART.

The city applied for the grant in April of this year, hoping the money would allow it to execute the redesign plan, which was approved in late 2006.

"The project absolutely depended on getting this grant," Vuicich said. "We didn't have any other money."

The Metropolitan Transit Commission - regional planning body for the Bay Area - originally gave the city a $75,000 grant in 2004 to design a new BART plaza. The city picked a low-cost design in 2006 after rejecting larger-cost designs that would have relocated entrances to the station.

The city plans on issuing a request for proposal to finalize the redesign by the end of the year and to issue another request for construction bids in 2011, beginning construction of the new plaza by 2012, according to Vuicich. Construction is expected to take between eight to 12 months to complete.

"For many people, this is their front door to Berkeley," Vuicich said.

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