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 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):

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.

Additional enhancements:

  • 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–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.

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.”