Mayor Weighs in on Caltrans Project
Mayor Weighs in on Caltrans Project
Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is among the many Alamedans that support a bike-pedestrian only bridge connecting Oakland and west Alameda.
Ashcraft expressed her opinion in a letter responding to the Oakland Alameda Access Project’s (OAAP) draft Environmental Impact Report. OAAP is a decades-long project designed to improve connectivity between Alameda and Oakland around the area that encompasses I-880 and I-980 on- and off-ramps, the Posey and Webster tubes and Chinatown in Oakland. The project is led by Alameda County Transportation County (ACTC) and Caltrans.
Ashcraft praised the project’s plans to improve bicyclists and pedestrian safety in the area, but also said the project does not do enough to address high automobile use and pollution concerns.
“The City of Alameda also believes the project does not improve transit, bicycle or pedestrian access between Alameda and Oakland, and will not reduce overall automobile traffic, congestion, or the greenhouse gas emissions generated by automobile travel between Alameda and Oakland,” stated Ashcraft in her letter to Caltrans and ACTC.
Ashcraft also disagreed with the project’s plan to open a four-foot wide pathway in Webster Tube for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“This new path will be just as inadequate and uninviting for bicyclists and pedestrians as the existing three-foot walkway in the Posey Tube,” stated Ashcraft.
Ashcraft wrote that Alameda’s support of OAAP is contingent on two factors. First, the City of Oakland must support the project. Second, ACTC must agree to fund the proposed bicycle-pedestrian bridge’s project study report (PSR) and project approval/environmental document. The PSR is estimated to cost $1.4 million, while the project approval/environmental document is estimated to cost $4.4 million for a total of $5.8 million, according to Ashcraft.
Ashcraft stated that if the City of Oakland does not support OAAP, the City of Alameda would ask ACTC to use the $75 million allocated for OAAP, created by Measure BB, to improve access circulation improvements for Alameda Point, which was previously offered by ACTC officials.
In a letter to former Mayor Marie Gilmore on May 30, 2014, ACTC Chair Scott Haggerty wrote, “If for any reason the current project at Broadway-Jackson (now called OAAP) should prove to be infeasible within the timeframe of three years from the date of this letter and/or if other sources of funding become available, ACTC could allocate these funds to alternative transportation methods to and from Alameda Point without the need to amend the 2014 Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP).”
The TEP consists of several transportation improvement projects approved by ACTC. The TEP will be financed by Measure BB funds. The sales tax from Measure BB, which was approved by Alameda County voters in the November 2014 election, will generate nearly $8 billion over 30 years, according to ACTC.
The proposed bridge is supported by Alameda officials and Bike Walk Alameda (“Bicycle Group Wants Bike-Pedestrian Bridge for West End” Oct. 22). The bridge has also been recommended in the City of Oakland’s Downtown Specific Plan and their Bicycle Plan, the Caltrans District 4 Bicycle Plan, and the City of Alameda’s Transportation Choices Plan, Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, draft General Plan 2040 and draft Active Transportation Plan, according to Ashcraft.
ACTC and Caltrans gave a presentation on OAAP’s project design and status to the City of Alameda Transportation Commission (ATC) on Oct. 28. ATC will give input to city staff, who will then give input to the City Council at its Nov. 17 meeting. The Council will be asked to approve a final support and comment letter to ACTC and Caltrans.
I agree with Mayor Ashcraft that any improvements made to the Posey or Webster Tubes in the Oakland Alameda Access Project (OAAP) will only *marginally* improve life for peds or cyclists, but a second path in the Webster Tube would *at least* reduce some of the two-way-traffic conflicts we often encounter on the Posey Tube "walkway" by doubling the two tubes' bike-ped capacity. (I'll take as many *marginal* improvements as I can get, given the severe limitations of the tubes' ages and design, pending the construction of the proposed separate bike-ped span across the estuary.)
I have serious reservations about the adequacy and equity of closing down bike and pedestrian access in Oakland in order to speed up cars: bike and ped access and equity in both Oakland and Alameda must be truly enhanced -- not reduced -- in the final design of the OAAP.
I support this project, albeit with reservations, because it *seems* likely to reduce the traffic collisions that often bring traffic to through the tubes and towards NB 880 to a complete halt, which does not help our CO2 emissions. Eliminating the NB Broadway offramp and making Sixth Street a major connector will also probably help pedestrian and bike circulation in downtown Oakland and Chinatown somewhat.
At least this iteration, the renamed OAAP (formerly the long-languishing Broadway-Jackson Interchange Project)seems less freeway-like and much more bike- and pedestrian-friendly than its predecessors. (To create something substantially better would cost orders of magnitude more in funds and probably require tearing down a lot more of both the existing freeway and the neighborhoods. Neither of these scenarios seem likely or palatable.)
The final OAAP plans need to significantly improve and ease bike and pedestrian access to both 12th Street and Lake Merritt BART stations -- from all points in and around the project boundaries. I am far from convinced that superior bike and ped access has been ensured so far in the preliminary OAAP plans.
I look forward to supporting Bike East Bay's and BikeWalkAlameda's comments and critique(s) of this project and their related efforts to improve bike access along Seventh Street in Oakland, which is not included in this project.
The BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force (BBATF) will review the OAAP on either December 7, 2020, or February 1, 2021. Please check the BART website for upcoming BBATF agendas and Zoom meeting instructions: