Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC) has released its initial design for a completely new freeway interchange at I-80/Ashby Avenue, right at the city line between Emeryville and Berkeley, and public comments are due January 31. While the project includes a pretty darn good new bike-ped bridge over I-80 from 65th Street to the Bay Trail, the project does nothing to get you safely to the bridge. The project includes no safety improvements on Shellmound Street, a popular north-south bikeway in the area or provide a connection on 65th Street to Doyle Street. At the same time, the project adds more traffic to both Shellmound and 65th. For these reasons, we do not support the project as designed. Please submit your comments of concern and/or opposition and ask for a family-friendly bikeways on Shellmound Street and 65th Street to connect to the new bridge.
What we like about the project:
- The bike ped bridge is well-designed and includes a good connection at the western end of 65th Street as well as a direct connection to the Bay Trail.
- There is also a good bike-ped connection from Shellmound Street to the bridge takeoff for people coming from the north (Berkeley).
What needs to be improved:
- Shellmound Street needs a low-stress, family-friendly bikeway the whole way, connecting from Emeryville to the south and connecting from Bay Street and Berkeley to the north. Emeryville’s own draft active transportation plan calls for such a bikeway. Such a safe bikeway is needed even more with this project because the project adds two new connector ramps to I-80 from Shellmound. There is going to be more traffic on Shellmound and the project has to mitigate that.
- 65th Street also needs a safe bikeway between Shellmound and Doyle Street and the project stops short of this. There is a basic concept in transportation planning that experts fail to remember that when building a good bikeway with a project, the bikeway should connect to existing bikeways, and this project doesn’t do that with 65th Street.
- Construction impacts also need to be well mitigated. During construction of the new freeway interchange, traffic will be diverted on to local streets, including 6th/7th Streets in Berkeley. The bikeway crossings of Berkeley should be upgraded during construction to maintain safe crossings of 6th Street, as well as safety of people bicycling on 6th/7th Streets.
- The total project now is estimated to cost $157 million to build, and lacks $100 million of this. Alameda CTC will need to find that money elsewhere, taking it from other higher priority projects, or redesign this interchange project with a more reasonable design and cost. As is, the project is overly designed for cars. We can completely build out a safe bike network in all of Emeryville and Berkeley for the cost of this one interchange project.