Major changes proposed for Island Access in Alameda

Wednesday night, there will be a public study session on “Proposed I-880 Improvements Between 23rd Avenue and 29th Avenue.” The project is due to be completed in 2015 and promises to be pretty disruptive to drivers traveling North on I-88o.

  • Remove and replace the 23rd Ave and 29th Ave. overcrossings
  • Reconstruct the northbound 29th Ave. off ramp – directly connecting to the new 29th Ave.  bridge giving a more direct Northbound connection to Alameda via Park Street.
  • Consolidate the two northbound 23rd Ave. on ramps – consolidating two on ramps into one

Right now, people coming North have to either get off on the High Street Bridge and then head up Fernside, Gibbons or Central to Park Street, or they can get off at 29th Ave. and drive backwards to the Fruitvale or do a u-turn on 29th Ave. in order to cross the Park Street Bridge.

Google directions for Park Street from Northbound I-880

The new Northbound exit will connect directly to 29th Ave keeping this traffic off residential streets and getting it to Park Street and areas West, much easier.

The negative? The changes don’t do anything for connecting I-880 to the Fruitvale Bridge, and in fact make it more difficult to use from a Northbound direction. The current 180-degree exit along 9th Street (as seen in the above image) will be eliminated making the Fruitvale Bridge effectively inaccessible for folks heading North on I-880. This means more traffic on High Street (though it will likely be a net loss because of the Park Street Bridge access).

The proposal looks like this:

Alameda/I-880 access project

Bicycle access will be provided (via new bike lanes) over both new bridges which will better connect Alameda and the Fruitvale/San Antonio district in Oakland. Bike and pedestrian access looks like this:

Bicycle and Pedestrian access at 23rd and 29th ave in Oakland

Per the staff report, the completed project will include the following (select highlights, my comments in italics):

  • The project will increase traffic and change traffic circulation in the Park Street Triangle area– bordered by 23rd Avenue, 29th Avenue, and Ford Street in Oakland, north of the Park Street Bridge. The CMA has funded a separate study to address the traffic circulation in this area. The goal of this study is to develop preferred alternatives that could be used in pursuing local and regional funding for the improvements in this area. {Ed. Comment: Read this as traffic will be problematic, but they (the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency) will look for funding to fix it some day}
  • Staff is concerned about increased delays along Park Street during the morning peak hour due to the consolidation of the existing two on-ramps at 23rd Avenue for northbound I-880 access. In addition, the project will add a traffic signal at the new consolidated on-ramp, creating additional delays for motorists attempting to take northbound I-880 from the cities of Alameda and Oakland. Presently it is estimated that if the project is constructed that the queue at the northbound Park Street Bridge approach would increase by 1,000 feet during the AM peak hour. To address these concerns, the project team is working on incorporating transit system improvements including a queue jump lane at the new signalized intersection at northbound I-880/23rd Avenue on-ramp that would allow the busses to bypass the vehicle queues to enter northbound I-880. Additionally, the CMA has agreed to work with the City in securing funding for the implementation of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) in this area and along Park Street to gain capacity benefits without increasing the physical capacity of the streets. However, considering the significant impacts associated with this project, implementation of ITS elements and transit queue jump should be included as part of the project. {Ed. Comment: Queue jump lanes will be useful for the OX Bus line especially if I880 ever gets HOV lanes in this section which would allow express buses to really cover ground during commute time. “Gain[ing] capacity” on Park Street means pumping more traffic through the area, something that won’t be beneficial to the business district or people shopping in it. I don’t believe I have ever heard someone say “You know, Park Street just isn’t busy enough, if only more cars could fly down the street without stopping, THEN it’ll be perfect. Hopefully, staff will provide more data on the daily window of time when this will be needed (all-day vs. one-hour-a-day.
  • The signalized intersections of Blanding Avenue and Clement Avenue will have significant impacts due to the project, and mitigations will be required per the City requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act. The mitigations proposed in the CMA’s draft environmental analysis include eastbound and westbound turn restrictions for Clement Avenue, which is not acceptable to the City. {Ed. Comment: These are especially ridiculous since the City’s long term transportation plans highlight Clement as the main East/West roadway for the Northside of the Island}

Now’s the time to show and and give comments. Wednesday night (8/26) at 7:30pm in the city council chambers.