Amblin' Alameda: Posey Tube

Amblin' Alameda: Posey Tube

Morton Chalfy

On Wednesday I read a story in the San Francisco Chronicle that caught my attention for several reasons. First because it was a story about Alameda, which is an unusual occurrence in that newspaper, and second, because of the following paragraph about the consequences of development at the Target complex and the proposed developments at Alameda Point:

According to the report (the city's environmental impact report in draft form) the bulk of the traffic impacts will be in downtown Oakland and Chinatown, where the Webster (Posey) Tube deposits travelers heading off the island. Some of the impacts are expected to be so severe that the report deems them unfixable.


Unfixable? This remark stunned me. A day ago I used the tube to get into Oakland during morning rush hour and the line of cars went back for two blocks. This is before the development of Alameda Point, before the completion of the Target complex. It is really unbelievable that all this planning and construction is going on with a major problem looming and no one working to fix or alleviate this. Of course if it is unfixable then we'll just have to live with it and suffer the consequences.

Harrison Street, the outlet into Oakland for the tube, is already stop and go traffic from the tube's mouth to 20th Street. Once the traffic count really gets up there due to Target etc. it will be stop and stop some more. If the developers and our political leaders expect Oakland to provide a solution, they must not realize that Oakland has more pressing problems. If the “solution” is for us to live with it, the ramifications will be severe.

The tubes will become a choke point for the city, an ongoing traffic mess for Chinatown and a line of cars backed up to and beyond Lincoln Avenue for Alameda. It will hurt Target, frustrate those who want to shop there and be a source of disgruntlement for the residents of our laid back city for who knows how long. And it will be a danger to the residents if we ever need to evacuate the Island.

I fully expect Mapquest to begin re-routing West Enders to Park Street, Fruitvale or High Street bridges if they want to leave the Island in a timely fashion with easily forseeable traffic jam consequences.

The concept that major developments could go forward with an acknowledged and unresolved traffic problem of this magnitude leaves me breathless. This has become an example of “externalized costs” like the pollution of the air and water: A problem created by one entity and paid for by others, in this case all the residents of Alameda. Unfixable? That term can now be applied to the system that allowed this to develop.