New Central Avenue Plan Goes in Circles

New Central Avenue Plan Goes in Circles

The Alameda Transportation Commission met Nov. 18. to review the final draft plans for the Central Avenue redesign project between Main and Sherman streets. A few residents such as I took the time to download attachments to that meeting to discover major not-before-discussed changes at Sherman Street.

Roundabouts (or traffic circles) are now prominent in the Central Avenue project design. The intersection of Central, Encinal, and Sherman is being designed to remove traffic signals placing a roundabout in the middle. The only two options in the plans for that intersection close off northbound Sherman Street.

One option makes the street segment of Sherman between San Antonio and Encinal avenues a cul-de-sac. The only other option offered forces a right hand turn from northbound Sherman onto Encinal. Sherman Street would no longer be a straight shot northbound.

Sherman is a major south to north road for residents south and southeast of Sherman and Encinal to travel. That also includes travelers from Otis Drive and Grand Street. If you want to travel northbound from South Shore, many drivers will take Otis to Grand, turn left onto Dayton, Clinton, San Jose, or San Antonio to Sherman and go northbound through the Central, Encinal, Sherman intersection.

It is a shortest distance preferred route choice for many drivers. It saves time and fuel (and thus the environment.) That route will no longer be possible once the City constructs the Planning Department Commission-approved roundabout in 2022.

During public comment I asked if the city had notified half of the island’s residents about the city’s decision to close northbound Sherman at Encinal. Although the Transportation Commission took notice of my comment, they still approved the project to go before the City Council only with some side suggestions.

The Commission should have “done the right thing” and not approved the project as designed in order to ensure that more Alameda residents would have time to be notified and view/attend a new workshop and discuss the “new and improved” design for Sherman.

A future City Council meeting (maybe on Dec. 15 or Jan. 5) will vote on the Central Avenue redesign project.

Please pay attention to future City Council meeting agendas (https://alameda.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx) to see when the Council will vote on the Central Avenue project and voice your opinion. That is just another example of the City of Alameda’s fast-tracking a major transportation design change that affects more residents than the city chooses to notify.

Comments

seiwald

Editor:
As a Sherman Street resident who regularly bicycles, walks and drives through the intersection of Sherman Street, Central and Encinal avenues, I more than support the Alameda Transportation Commission’s (ATC) plan to replace the lights with a traffic circle (“New Central Avenue Plan Goes in Circles,” Nov. 26). I’ve wanted this for years. Kudos to them for moving forward.

But the dead-end/right-turn-only plan is a non-starter. It will divert northbound Sherman traffic to cross Central at Bay Street or, worse, both Encinal and Central at Morton Street.

The point of traffic circles is to smooth and thus calm the flow of traffic. Diverting traffic has the opposite effects, as drivers desperately maneuver to make up for perceived lost time.

I’m sure there is some limitation that causes the ATC to consider this approach. They need to work on that limitation.