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Oakland/Western Alameda Project-a-Palooza

Western Alamedans and Oaklanders who walk and bike have long dreamed of a way to get across the Oakland estuary without driving and/or backtracking via the noxious hellscape of the Posey tube.

Yesterday evening, representatives from four seemingly disparate projects assembled at a co-working space in downtown Oakland to meet with advocates to catch up and look for synergies that might help that dream be realized, along with better bike lanes and safer streets in both cities. "There's a number of projects all coming together," said Chris Hwang of Walk Bike Oakland, which hosted the meeting. "I love the estuary crossing--that could be a game changer."

So what projects are in the works? At the meeting, there were representatives from the following:

    • Oakland A's, to talk about the proposed stadium at the Howard Terminal in Jack London Square
    • The City of Oakland, with plans for downtown and an updated bike plan
    • The City of Alameda, to discuss water taxis, a draw bridge, and other proposals to bridge the gap between Western Alameda and Oakland
    • And lastly, the Alameda Access Project, which would remove the Broadway off-ramp of I-880 as it currently cuts through Chinatown (it would also aim to increase automobile throughput to Alameda)
Bike East Bay's Dave Campbell welcomes everyone to last night's
Bike East Bay's Dave Campbell welcomes everyone to last night's update on everything Oakland and Western Alameda. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
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Drilling down a bit, Manuel Corona was there with the City of Oakland to talk about planned improvements to 14th Street. Corona explained that the project will have curb-protected bike lanes and protected intersections. There will also be bulb-outs to shorten crossing distances, he explained, and storm drain rain gardens. Construction should begin in 2020.

A rendering of what 14th Street will look like in the future. Image: OakDOT
A rendering of what 14th Street will look like in the future. Image: OakDOT
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A representative from the A's (who handed out coupons for game tickets) showed preliminary designs for the proposed Howard Terminal ballpark. It includes protected bike lanes for navigation around the park and would extend the Bay Trail along the estuary through the site. It could also, as previously reported, include a gondola to connect the stadium to 12th Street BART in downtown Oakland (as seen in the lead image).

A rendering of the proposed ballpark at Jack London Square. Image: Oakland A's
A rendering of the proposed ballpark at Jack London Square. Image: Oakland A's
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Rochelle Wheeler, Senior Transportation Coordinator for the City of Alameda, has hopes that as part of the overall scheme to better connect Western Alameda and Oakland, that gondola can continue across the estuary and touch down at perhaps two locations in Alameda. That way it could feed sports fans to the ballpark on game days, but also serve as an important transportation link.

She said that would be a game-changer for Western Alamedans connecting to BART. She also said the city is talking with Tideline, which operates small ferry boats, about establishing a water taxi service between Jack London Square and Western Alameda. And, of course, the ultimate hope is to establish a pedestrian-and-bike-only lift bridge--and she presented this now-well-known rendering to the audience:

A concept for a lift bridge between western Alameda and Jack London Square. Image: City of Alameda
A concept for a lift bridge between western Alameda and Jack London Square. Image: City of Alameda
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There were also consultants presenting on the aforementioned Alameda Access Project, which--as previously reported--would remove the Broadway off ramp from I-880. Unfortunately, the $83 million project also includes road widening and is mostly car-focused.

Many at the meeting hoped some of the funds from that project would help jump-start plans for the bridge and other cross-estuary options for people walking and cycling. "Say $10 million, which we would then demand be spent on cross estuary bike/ped access issues. It could fund water shuttle boats and operations, and/or be a down payment on the bridge," said Walk Bike Alameda's Brian McGuire of that project in a previous post.

All in all, the advocates and presenters seemed excited about the potential for these projects, taken together, to transform Oakland and Alameda into more bike-friendly, walk-friendly places.

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