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Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Richmond Parkway Call Box Service Begins

Safety network expands


Mona Lombard, City of Richmond

Reka Goode

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 14, 2000...The first of 14 brand-new motorist-assist call boxes to be installed on the Richmond Parkway was unveiled at a ceremonial kickoff on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2000, at the corner of Barrett Avenue and Garrard Boulevard in Richmond. The seven-mile-long connector between Interstates 80 and 580 in the East Bay will be equipped with seven call boxes on each side when the installation project is completed by the end of the year.

Participants in today's event included representatives of local and regional agencies that have played a key role in the planning and funding of the call boxes: Maria Alegria, councilmember, city of Pinole, and former chairperson, West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee (WCCTAC); Nathaniel Bates, vice mayor, city of Richmond; Sharon Brown, councilmember, city of San Pablo, and vice chair, Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Service Authority for Freeways and Expressways (MTC SAFE); John Marquez, councilmember, city of Richmond, and chairperson, WCCTAC; John Gioia, supervisor, District 1, Contra Costa County; and Joseph P. Samuels Jr., police chief, city of Richmond.

Richmond Councilman and WCCTAC Chair John Marquez noted that the call box installation was initiated in response to the concerns expressed by the committee, in particular, its former chair, Maria Alegria. "We wanted to ensure the safety of motorists who might be stranded along this seven-mile stretch of roadway where no gas stations or other businesses are located," said Marquez.

The call box project came to fruition through a unique agreement. Responsibility for the call boxes is being shared by MTC SAFE and the city of Richmond, with MTC SAFE overseeing installation and maintenance of the call boxes, and the city responsible for responding to calls.

The call boxes are part of a network of approximately 3,500 bright yellow call boxes operated and administered by the MTC SAFE that have been installed in the nine Bay Area counties over the past 12 years to allow motorists to report road hazards, accidents and mechanical breakdowns, and to secure help. The regional call box network currently generates an average of 11,000 calls per month.

Calls coming from the Richmond Parkway will be answered by MTC SAFE's call answering center, and then transferred to the City of Richmond Police Department for response. (Calls from freeway call boxes elsewhere in the region that require response by law enforcement officers are directed to the California Highway Patrol.)

Equipment and installation costs for the Richmond Parkway call boxes total $19,000, and are being paid for by MTC SAFE, which derives its revenues from the $1 vehicle registration surcharge levied in the nine Bay Area counties. Maintenance costs are part of MTC SAFE's 10-year maintenance agreement signed last year with Comarco Wireless Technologies of Irvine, Calif., which installs and maintains call boxes throughout the region.

MTC is the regional transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. MTC commissioners oversee the regional SAFE, in partnership with Caltrans and the CHP.


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