• West Span Bicycle/Pedestrian/Maintenance Path The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) has stepped up to take a lead role in advocating to “Bridge the Gap” between San Francisco and Yerba Buena Island.
EBBC’s bridge focus led to approval, in 1998, of the Alexander Zuckermann Pathway on the East Span replacement project, expected to be completed in 2013 or 2014. The “world-class” 15.5-foot-wide pathway is raised above the roadway and includes six scenic overlook platforms. Already you can see the new East Span path under construction. EBBC continues to lead the push for “world-class” access to the bridge take-off from Emeryville’s Shellmound St–a plan that has received thorough review, environmental clearance, and funding.
EBBC also led the effort to advocate for a $2 million West Span Path feasibility study by consultant CH2MHill. The comprehensive study, completed in 2001, identified a preferred design to build paths on both sides of the existing suspension bridge that meet seismic and maritime traffic clearance requirements. It also offers crucial safety benefits to motorists and bridge workers and will allow access for maintenance or emergency vehicles,
The West Span bridge committee, consisting of SFBC, BABC, TALC (now TransForm), EBBC, and SF Dept of Health met on a monthly basis in 2006 to develop strategies to fund and implement the West Span Bicycle/Pedestrian/Maintenance Path. By working together, they succeeded in garnering a Caltrans Community grant to study future connections between the former base on Treasure Island (within SF, now undergoing a base conversion to civilian uses) with San Francisco.
In early 2009 the MTC began considering a toll increase and advocacy leaders from EBBC, SFBC and BABC met with the MTC on Jan 28 to negotiate an agreement to fund a Project Study Document for the West Span. The full MTC approved initiation of this $1.3 million study to be conducted by TY LIN International.
• Access through the Concord Military Ocean Terminal One of the EBBC’s victories of 2006 was the passage of the Delta Trails legislation (SB1556-Torlakson), signed into law by the Governor on Sept 30, 2006. The bill establishes a Delta Trails Commission with the goal of completing a continuous bicycle and hiking trail around the Delta that links the Bay Trail to the Sacramento River trails in Yolo and Sacramento Counties. This includes access through the Military Ocean Terminal, a level route between N Concord and Bay Point, that was closed to bicyclists in 1994.
In January 2008 EBBC supported the Delta Trails Commission’s Caltrans grant application to plan and begin implementation of the Delta Trail.
• Alameda-Oakland Estuary Crossing Crossing the Estuary between downtown Oakland and Alameda on a bike requires travel on the extremely narrow and filthy sidewalk in the noisy Posey Tube. Together with BikeAlameda, who prioritized the Estuary Crossing campaign, bicyclists succeeded in gaining an agreement with Catellus (Alameda Landing) and the City of Alameda Transportation Commission to implement an Estuary Water Shuttle (approx 2008-2009). See: rideOn, Jan 2007, “Promising Developments for 2007.”
The City of Alameda is also preparing a feasibility study of the options for a long-range Estuary Crossing solution. See: possible solutions.
• East Bay Bicycle Coalition joins Fourth Bore Coalition in lawsuit against Caltrans On November 13, 2007, EBBC and 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 prepared the record to mount a sustained legal battle to garner significant transportation enhancements and environmental protections for communities affected by the project.
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):
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.
- 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
- 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
- Telegraph Ave bike lanes
- Safe and convenient bike/ped access thru the Ashby/I-80 interchange
- Traffic light at Ninth St. bike boulevard and Ashby
- High visibility crossing/traffic light at Ashby/California
- BART platform noise reduction in freeway medians
- Plus, numerous construction noise and environmental protection measures called for by EBBC’s five partners in the FBC.
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–enabled us to prevail. Following two full days of testimony on Oct 31 & Nov 5 2008 we waited and waited for a decision. A settlement was reached in Feb 2009 prompted by Governor Schwarzenegger’s announcement that he would not sign a budget bill unless it exempted several highway projects, including the Caldecott Improvement Project, from environmental review. Although the settlement was inadequate to fully compensate for the damages the new tunnel will bring, millions of dollars will go to fund enhancements that would not have otherwise been included in the project. FBC will continue to monitor the project throughout construction to insure compliance.
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 Roadway 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.”
• Focus on West CoCoCo Our collaboration with West County officials in identifying Indian Casino Transportation impacts on bicycling have identified many partners who share our urge to counter the lack of sustained commitment in the West County to nonmotorized projects. The EBBC contributed $3000 to the Casino Impact study that sets out necessary bikeway improvements if any of the three casino proposals move forward. We seek WCTAC participation in preparing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and creation of a BAC.
• RSR Bridge Caltrans has been dragging its feet on implementing bike access to the shoulder area, as required by the BCDC permit.
On February 13, 2008, EBBC meets with MTC and Caltrans with the hope of approving a movable barrier on the upper deck of the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge. This compromise provides bicycle and pedestrian access at all hours except peak commute period in the morning. EBBC is optimistic that the solution will meet Caltrans’ criteria and the MTC’s funding and political will.
On April 14, 2008, the Bay Conservation & Development Commission (a State agency) voted 14-2 in favor of moving forward with the movable barrier proposal.
By the onset of the recession in late 2008 it became obvious that the lower traffic volume did not warrant a movable barrier. The MTC’s Bay Area Toll Authority proposed a cost-saving pilot project to install a simple solid barrier. In early 2009 Caltrans dug in its heals and said No!
• Routine Accommodation Can you think of a road project that resulted in diminished access or safety for bicyclists? Or, a new transit facility that lacked secure bicycle parking or well-planned access for bicyclists? Most of us have multiple examples. EBBC has long had to carefully watch all so-called transportation “improvements” to make certain that they did not add yet another barrier to bicycling.
“Routine Accommodation” is our campaign to urge that all highway and transit spending consider the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. Those of you who are familiar with the League of American Bicyclists’ “Complete the Streets!” program will recognize that Routine Accommodation is a more inclusive term that encompasses transit. The EBBC has succeeded in convincing other Bay Area bicycle advocacy leaders to unite in working toward a vision of fulfilling our goal to make all transportation spending a productive investment for bicyclists and pedestrians.
EBBC’s campaign garnered the support of advocates throughout the Bay Area. By working together and building a strong regional coalition, we succeeded on June 28, 2006 in convincing the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to approve Resolution 3765 - Routine Accommodation of Pedestrians and Bicylists. (See: rideOn, July 2006).
MTC’s Routine Accommodation Checklist for local jurisdictions to complete underwent careful review over the following year and was ready for use in 2008 projects “at their earliest conception or design phase so that any pedestrian or bicycle consideration can be included in the project budget.” The initial application of the Checklist was for the transportation stimulus local streets and roads rehabilitation projects in early 2009. The intent is for you to review projects proposed in your own county!
The policy guidelines for Routine Accommodation are consistent with the Policy Statement contained within the United States Department of Transportation’s Design Guidance document entitled, Accommodating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel: A Recommended Approach.
(Photo: www.pedbikeimages.org / Dan Burden.)