Meet Oakland's Next Cycle Track: Upper Broadway

Oakland is readying its next cycle track on upper Broadway, between Keith Ave and Brookside Drive, next to SR 24. Our successful challenge to the Caldecott 4th Bore Project is funding this new bikeway that promises to make your bike ride up Broadway the envy of bicyclists the world over. They are even going to paint it green!

What you can do: If you like this bikeway design, let Oakland know. They would appreciate some love. Contact:

….and let them know not only what you think about this project, but that you want to see it built sooner than 2015.

We are also pleased to report that new bike lanes are coming to Tunnel Road, Caldecott Lane and the K overcrossing of SR 24, as well as all of upper Broadway above Brookside. And there will be many pedestrian improvements too. EBBC volunteer Matt Ayers will be in attendance, along with many members of the Fourth Bore Coalition, who we fought long and hard with over several years to secure bike/ped/neighborhood improvements to lessen the effect from increased traffic caused by the widening of State Route 24 through the tunnel. In total, Oakland is funding $8 million of these projects, and the City of Berkeley is funding $2 million.

Background The East Bay Bicycle Coalition and the Fourth Bore Coalition completed two walking tours of the traffic impact zone of the Caldecott 4th Bore Project. A third walking tour will be scheduled soon. EBBC and the FBC are meeting with stakeholders in the lawsuit against Caltrans and the City of Oakland to scope out potential improvement projects for walking and bicycling in the SR 24 Corridor. EBBC’s lawsuit against Caltrans involved $8 Million allocated for traffic safety improvements around Broadway/Tunnel Road area to help reduce traffic safety impacts from expansion of the Caldecott Tunnel from 3 bores to 4.

There will be three “walk audits” of potential projects to be funded through the City of Oakland’s Settlement Agreement with Caltrans over the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore EIR.

The Walk/Bike audits will be of the Upper Broadway/Caldecott Lane/Tunnel Road and Broadway/Keith Avenue/College Avenue/Rockridge BART neighborhood, and Telegraph Avenue between the SR 24 ramps and the MacArthur BART station. EBBC member Matt Ayers is heading up the reconnaissance of the area and assessment of the traffic impact zone of the Caldecott 4th Bore Tunnel. Specifically, EBBC will survey potential bicycle safety and access improvements on Broadway, Keith and Tunnel Road. EBBC seeks bike lanes on Broadway and Tunnel Road, an improved Broadway/Keith intersection, and better access around the Rockridge BART Station. Below is a review of the safety and access issues involved.

EBBC will report back soon on the developments and request your input to ensure that Caltrans maximizes bicycle safety improvements of Caldecott traffic impact zone. The purpose of the walk audits is for City staff, the consultant team, and community stakeholders to tour potential project sites and discuss them from the perspectives of community need, traffic engineering and funding leverage. In conjunction with collision data, traffic volumes and other information, we will use what we learn on the walk audits to create one-page data sheets for each potential project. Working with the office of District 1 Council member Jane Brunner, we will develop prioritization criteria the public can use to help create the final, prioritized list of projects in Fall 2010.

Bicycle Safety and Access Issues potentially funded by the Caldecott 4th Bore Project: $8 Million available in Oakland for bike/ped/traffic safety enhancements

  1. Broadway–southbound at Patton: As the SR 24 off-ramps merge with Broadway heading south, bicyclists heading south on Broadway have to merge right at an uncontrolled intersection with the increased traffic exiting from SR 24. Specifically, bicyclists have to merge to the right over two off-ramp lanes and one lane of traffic merging from Patton Street. Nothing in the Caldecott EIR looks at traffic speeds at this location. During the evening commute,approximately 345 additional cars will exit at this off-ramp. For the 5:00-6:00pm commute hour, the traffic increase is 52% over the No-Build option. With additional traffic, adequate gaps in traffic decrease, gaps through which bicyclists must merge and cross traffic to safely get to the far right side of southbound Broadway. And as gaps decrease, the difficulty increases of safely crossing traffic. This dangerous condition needs to be studied as part of the EIR.
  2. Broadway-southbound at SR 24 on-ramp: At the on-ramp from Broadway to SF 24, bicyclists heading south/southwest on Broadway have to first avoid right turning traffic that is heading in the same direction and turning right onto SR 24 east. Then, after avoid right turning traffic, bicyclists have to cross accelerating traffic entering SR 24 in the opposite direction. Again, the EIR makes no mention of traffic speeds at this interestion. During the morning commute, their are approximately 985 more cars driving up Broadway and entering SR 24 at this uncontrolled intersection. This averages one car every 15 seconds over the 4 hour morning commute and is a 120% increase in traffic over the No-Build option. Of most interest, during the first hour of the morning commute (6:00-7:00AM) the EIR shows that 865 additional cars will enter SR 24 eastbound at this intersection. This equates to an additional car every 4 seconds, the gaps between which bicyclists must attempt safe crossing. This dangerous condition needs to be studied as part of the EIR (Note: honestly, I think Caltrans has made an error here, but one in our favor. The EIR shows for the 6:00-7:00am eastbound morning commute hour that the mainline volume on east SR 24 drops from 2267 to 1843 before and after the Broadway on-ramp. Traffic volume can’t drop after an on-ramp, only after an off-ramp. I checked the Cambridge report here and there numbers go up, as it should)
  3. Broadway Northbound: northbound on Broadway at the intersection with Keith, Broadway narrows and creates a dangerous pinch point for bicyclists. The danger is worsened by the crest of Broadway at that point and the fact that cars are speeding up as they near the eastbound on-ramps to SR 24.
  4. Broadway Corridor Bikeway Feasibility Study: the Oakland Bike Plan includes a Broadway Corridor Bikeway Feasibility Study that concludes there will be 4 intersections along Broadway, between downtown Oakland and the on-ramps at SR 24 where provisions of bike lanes may be problematic: Broadway/Broadway Terrace, Broadway/51st, Broadway/40th and Broadway/MacArthur. The additional traffic mentioned above could also affect the delivery of this important bikeway. The Oakland Bike Plan states that even a 3% increase in traffic of an intersection operating at LOS F is a significant impact. While the Caldecott may not add 3% traffic to Broadway, the additional traffic from the 4th Bore Project may render infeasible the plan for removing a travel lane on Broadway in order to add bike lanes. This potential impact needs to be studied as part of the Caldecott EIR
  5. Tunnel Road: From the Hiller intersection down to Domingo, bicyclists have to “share the road” with faster moving cars along a curvy section of Tunnel. There are pinch points and narrow lanes, as well as exiting and entering traffic at intersections such as The Uplands. During the morning commute, approximately 400 more cars travel down Tunnel Road.
  6. Telegraph Avenue: During the morning commute, additional traffic exits SR 24 at Telegraph. There are sections of Telegraph both north and south of the SR 24 off-ramp to Telegraph where there are no bike lanes. The Peak Period traffic volumes on these sections of Telegraph are 1448 vehicles/hour heading NE and 1984 vehicles/hour heading SW to downtown Oakland. The ADT is 38,689 vehicles/day and there are two travel lanes in each direction. The Oakland Bike Plan states that the the maximum capacity of a travel lane is 800 cars/hour, which means that Telegraph can handle up to 1600 vehicles/hour in each direction. But this is with a two-way left-turn center turn lane. Adding bike lanes to Telegraph Ave requires the removal of this center turn lane. During the morning commute, a Fourth Bore of the Caldecott will add an additional 448 cars, which will push the capacity of Telegraph to its limit and perhaps beyond. The removal of the center turn lane will be more difficult, from a traffic engineering standpoint with this additional trafficBicycle Safety and Access Issues not Adequately Addressed in the Caldecott 4th Bore Project EIR
  7. College Avenue: During the evening commute, approximately 361 additional cars will exit SR 24 onto College Ave. The Claremont Middle School is right at the intersection of College and the SR 24 off-ramps that merge onto Miles Ave. So is the Rockridge BART Station. The intersection is a heavily used pedestrian and bicyclist intersection. Traffic coming westbound downhill off the exit ramps travels an increased speed and generally goes left, straight, and right at College. This creates many conflicts. The Oakland Bicycle Plan states that College Avenue has the highest rate of bicycle collisions in the enter city of Oakland. In fact, it’s more than twice as dangerous as the 2nd most dangerous street–Telegraph Avenue, discussed above.

Background on the Caldecott Litigations

On November 13, 2007, EBBC and five other groups that comprise the Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC) filed a lawsuit against Caltrans and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) on the grounds that the proposed 4th Bore does not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. You can view a copy of the petition that FBC filed in Superior Court. The City of Oakland threated to sue, but instead settled for peanuts on June 17, 2008. Meanwhile, FBC is busy preparing the record to mount a sustained legal battle to garner significant transportation enhancements and environmental protections for communities affected by the project. Join us! Read the comments EBBC submitted to Caltrans on the Caldecott Environmental Impact Report (pdf format).

The proposed 4th bore of the Caldecott Tunnel will neither improve travel in the peak commute direction nor offer any transit or carpool options. It WILL add much more traffic to local streets in the Oakland-Berkeley area and Ashby Avenue, for example, will see as much new traffic, noise, and pollution as any local street. Bicyclists and pedestrians crossing Ashby Ave will have to negotiate this significant additional traffic.

The $8 million set-aside by the Alameda County CMA to mitigate such impacts represents under 2% of the overall project costs and is simply inadequate to address the wide-ranging damage that continued Eisenhower-era freeway building will cause. Mitigations fail to address the additional barriers to mobility that the project would create for transit and bicyclists.

Instead, EBBC and FBC seek the following bicycle/pedestrian/transit enhancements and environmental protections (partial listing from lengthy list of measures called for both during and after construction): Enhancements Secured in Settlement:

  • The Tunnel-Skyline Regional Bikeway between Rockridge BART (Chabot at College Ave) and the scenic Skyline parklands needs pavement maintenance, added bikeway width, and wayfinding signage
  • Bike lanes on Broadway from Golden Gate Avenue up and around the last overcrossing (K overcrossing) of the freeway and down to Tunnel Road in Berkeley
  • Tunnel Rd shoulder improvements, including south bound right turn at Domingo
  • Broadway above Keith lacks adequate shoulder and bike lanes are called for on lower Broadway
  • Traffic light at Ashby/Hillegass and additional traffic calming on Hillegass

About Fourth Bore Coalition

The members of the Fourth Bore Coalition are the North Hills Phoenix Association, Parkwoods Community Association, Rockridge Community Planning Council, Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association, FROG Park, and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. The financial strength of FBC, coupled with our proven legal representatives–Stuart Flashman and Antonio Rossmann–will enable us to prevail in court. Your contribution to support the lawsuit can be sent to EBBC, PO Box 1736, Oakland 94604 with FBC marked in the memo line of your check. Like EBBC, FBC is a 501(c)(3) corporation and you may also contribute to FBC directly.

Additional enhancements not secured to date:Indirect access improvements to overcome existing barriers throughout the Caldecott corridor:

  • Safe Routes to Transit is a proven cost-effective program that can readily contribute to the project goals of increased corridor mobility by allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to safely reach BART Stations on either side of the hills,
  • BART Stations also need to offer secure bicycle parking, and
  • 24-hour bus service on dedicated lanes is desperately needed to augment transit capacity and help end the BART restrictions for bicyclists caused by crowded trains.

Restore severed access across SR 24. The North Hills Phoenix neighborhood, and all of the Claremont district, needs to be reunited with Lake Temescal and Montclair. Earlier tunnel and freeway building destroyed the Landvale Bridge, only an abutment remains above the Lake Temescal bike path. Replacing this connection across SR 24 would avoid about 2 miles of steep, out-of-direction travel. This crossing would also allow Caldecott corridor buses to serve passengers from surrounding neighborhoods and schools. Direct access for bicyclists can be provided in a cost-effective manner in the existing 15-1/2-foot wide fresh-air duct above the existing third bore. Although relatively few bicyclists are willing to climb to the 890’ East Portal on the shoulder of SR 24, or climb to the 739’ West Portal entrance, direct access represents true 24-hour access and significantly reduces the travel distance.

Brief Caldecott Tunnel History

There are two old, now-closed, tunnels through the Berkeley-Oakland Hills: 1) the Sacramento Northern Rail tunnel is not located near the Caldecott, but connects Shepherd Canyon to Pinehurst Road, and 2) the “Old Broadway Tunnel,” a high-level, single bore opened in 1903. This tunnel once connected Tunnel Road with Fish Ranch Road and is 160 to 290 feet above the existing Caldecott Tunnel, and only 320 feet below the summit. It represents only a marginal access improvement.

The original pair of Caldecott Tunnels was first referred to as the “Broadway Low-level Tunnel,” when opened in 1937. A 3rd bore, 3,771 feet long, was added to the north of the other tunnels in 1964. Thereafter the route was designated a freeway and bicyclists were no longer permitted.

The 3rd bore included two west-bound lanes and the ingenious pop-up bollards that have allowed the efficient use of the complex by changing lane directions in the center tunnel based on demand. Hence, 6 tunnel lanes elegantly serve 8 highway lanes (note that a new 4th bore will not increase capacity in the peak-commute direction).

EBBC last led tours of the 3rd bore’s 15’-wide fresh-air duct in 2000 and we suggest that duct would be the best alignment to accommodate bicyclists. According to Caltrans’ history on the Caldecott’s 60th Anniversary (1997): “Since the new tunnel [3rd bore] is used only for downhill (a 4% grade) traffic, ventilation requirements are practically nil. Yet the fans are run at low speed to maintain the motors.”

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