Breaking ground on downtown project

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin addressing a small crowd Tuesday morning. (Photo by Rob Gunnison)

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin addressing a small crowd Tuesday morning. (Photo by Rob Gunnison)

City leaders applauded groundbreaking on a new parking garage at the Richmond BART station during a Tuesday morning ceremony.

“I envision people parking cars in clean, safe spots, hopping on BART or Amtrak and saving gas money,” Mayor Gayle McLaughlin told a small crowd. “We in Richmond are focusing on the shift away from fossil fuels.”

The new parking garage is scheduled to be completed by early 2012, and will consist of six levels and 764 parking spaces. Meanwhile, a section of existing parking lot on the west side of the station between 15th and 16th streets will close beginning August 16, while parking on the east side of the station will remain open, according to BART’s website.

McLaughlin, who will campaign for re-election this year in part on her green development and transportation agenda, touted the development as part of a larger trend. “We are clearly changing our image here in Richmond,” she said.

Other speakers included Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Agency; Maria Viramontes, councilmember; a representative of Congressman George Miller; Joel Keller, BART board member; and Otheree Christian of the Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council.

Men in hardhats stood waiting for the festivities to end so they could get back to work on the hulking blue equipment, which already sat in the parking lot where the garage will be built.

The project is led by Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency as part of their transit village project at the Richmond BART Station, which first brought mass transit into the city in the early 1970s.

The $25 million project is also funded with money from a variety of city, county, state and federal sources.

The parking structure is envisioned as a replacement for parking spaces on the east side of the BART Station, where a mix of retail, commercial and residential construction will comprise a new Richmond Transit Village, according to BART.

Construction on the parking structure creates about 200 jobs.

Reporting was provided by Rob Gunnison.

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