The East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors on Tuesday unanimously approved a $2.2 million plan to improve safety and public access at the popular Hazel-Atlas Mine and museum at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.
The project, expected to be complete by the end of 2017, will allow tour of the historic mine to make a complete loop, from the current tour entrance into the museum. Currently, the tour stops after 1,000 feet and visitors must backtrack and then enter the museum through a separate entrance.
The project includes new steel stairs and safety improvements to the rock walls. Once the project is complete, mine tours will be longer and the public will have an alternate, more direct exit route.
The board awarded the project to the lowest bidder, Syblon Reid General Engineering Contractors of Folsom. Most of the funding will come from Measure WW and the District’s Major Infrastructure and Replacement Fund.
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is a 6,069-acre park in the Mt. Diablo foothills which was once home to a rich mining industry. Millions of tons of coal, and later sand, were mined from the area from the 1860s to the late 1940s. The East Bay Regional Park District maintains and offers tours of the Hazel-Atlas Mine, which once supplied sand to the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company of Oakland. A museum and visitor center include artifacts, old photographs and displays about the lives of local miners and the history of mining in the area.
“Black Diamond Mines is a gem in the East Bay, and we think this project will greatly increase access and safety at this special place,” said Park District General Manager Robert Doyle.
The Park District anticipates that mine tours will continue during construction although may be shortened.
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 120,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.