Alameda in line for $122 million in transportation tax money

Alameda in line for $122 million in transportation tax money

Scott Weitze

Last November voters approved Measure BB, which spells out the transportation and transit priorities for Alameda County over the next 30 years and the funding source for these projects: a half cent increase to the previous county sales tax for transportation. The new tax is in place through 2044.

The $8 billion that will be generated by the tax will pay for several major road and transit projects, including a complete reconfiguration of the I-80 Gilman Street interchange in Berkeley and the extension of BART to Livermore, plus an expanded commitment to East Bay paratransit and affordable transit passes for youth and seniors.

At the local level, Alameda is positioned to see several improvements to its transit and transportation infrastructure paid for with Measure BB money, regional and local transportation officials said.

Alameda is set to get more than $96 million for local street maintenance and safety projects over the 30 years the tax is in place and about $11 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects. The city will get another $14 million-plus for paratransit to serve seniors and people with disabilities.

Specific local projects the tax is expected to pay for include replacement of the Park Street, High Street and Fruitvale bridges so that they will be safe to cross after a major earthquake; each is to be replaced without a complete closure. A new Alameda-to-Fruitvale BART bus rapid transit route that will make it easier for Alameda’s commuters to use BART is included in the spending plan, which sets aside $9 million for the project.

The increased funding will also allow for the restoration of AC Transit service along routes that have suffered through several series of budget cuts, including the possible re-connection of a regular bus line to the Main Street ferry terminal; in all, AC Transit is slated to receive $1.5 billion over the 30 years the tax is in place. (Ferries will get close to $41 million.)

A collaborative study with the City of Oakland will look at traffic circulation in downtown Oakland, with the goals of reducing congestion and transit times in the Posey and Webster tunnels and improving access to the I-880 freeway. The plan also includes $75 million for fixes to the I-880/Jackson Street/Broadway interchange, which Alameda city leaders have long sought to improve access to and from the West End.

Tess Lengyel, deputy director of planning and policy for the Alameda County Transportation Commission – the countywide agency that created the plan and is tracking spending – said the passage of Measure BB was well timed. The majority of capital projects authorized by the passage of the Measure B sales tax in 2000 were completed ahead of schedule (the original tax was set to lapse in 2022).

Lengyel said Measure BB’s focus on providing local jurisdictions with funds for projects can produce immediate, visible results for Alameda County communities.

Several smaller projects, like the closure of gaps in an Island-wide bike trail and more pedestrian lanes, are expected to contribute to better movement through the Island, Lengyel said. Another project: Reconfiguring local roads.

A recent study showed that 25 percent of Island traffic congestion in the morning could be traced back to the slowdown that happens in front of schools as students are dropped off by their parents, causing a ripple effect on traffic flow, Lengyel said. Alameda’s public works department hopes to add multiple options that improve students’ ability to get to school without a car, including better walking access, improved sidewalks and dedicated trails for organized bike trains, which are groups of students biking to school together along a predefined route.

The local public works department will finalize its plan for local capital improvements supported by Measure BB funds in the summer of 2016, transportation engineer Virendra Patel said, with initial work on the Island starting soon thereafter.

The countywide transportation plan, which lists general categories of spending and some specific projects as well as details on financial accountability measures, is available online at http://www.alamedactc.org/2014plan.

Comments

Submitted by MJ (not verified) on Wed, Jan 28, 2015

Hi,

Thanks for the update. Did you really mean "replacement of the Park Street, High Street and Fruitvale bridges" or rather retrofitting?

Thanks!

Submitted by Scott Weitze on Wed, Jan 28, 2015

Hi MJ, thanks for the question. In the documents I have, they use the word "replacement".

http://www.alamedactc.org/files/managed/Document/12934/2014_Transportati...

I know the Fruitvale bridge is being giving a Lifeline upgrade (usability after a major quake).

Hope that helps.

Submitted by Kristen (not verified) on Wed, Jan 28, 2015

Curious to know if the plan also includes adding more busses to the morning commute off-island, heading toward downtown Oakland. The 51 has been packed, sometimes not stopping to pick up people at the Santa Clara/8th stop, during the 8:15-8:45 am window. (This has happened at least three times to me in the past month!) Often I see several nearly-empty busses pass going the opposite direction (toward Fruitvale BART)during that same time window. In general AC Transit needs to step up its game serving Alameda.

Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

I am hoping to see Alameda's broken, crumbling and displaced sidewalks fixed. These conditions are especially hazardous for the elderly and disabled.

Submitted by C. (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Steve you are so right about the sidewalks. They just keep patching the sidewalks over and over with often poor results. As to bus service - I really believe if AC Transit had more frequent buses (particularly lines 20 and 21) more people would start relying upon them. When there is 25 minutes between buses people aren't willing to get out of their cars. Also we need more bus benches in town near bus stops. First one that comes to mind is the one on Otis near Park St. Bus riders actually congregate on people's nearby porches on hot days to get some shade while waiting for the bus.

Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

MJ--
At least the Fruitvale bridge will be REPLACED with a "lifeline" bridge that will be able to remain in service following a very serious earthquake.
None of our current bridges are designed or constructed to that standard, although they have been retrofitted recently so they will not fall into the estuary and may be reparable afterwards.

The good news is that the new bridge and its redesigned approaches will be safer and more convenient for cyclists and pedestrians as well as more transit-friendly. I just hope that we have the lifeline bridge in place *before* the Next Big One comes...

Submitted by b. (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015

They're going to REPLACE the Park Street Bridge????

What insanity is this?!?

That bridge is an ICON! That bridge is part of what makes Alameda what it is! Retrofit it, maybe...but REPLACE it?

Is there any way to get this stopped? I'm surprised there hasn't been some huge public outcry about this. The Park Street Bridge is one of those things that make Alameda what it is. The way your tires feel as you drive across it...it's what let's you know you're "home" after venturing out into the madness!

Submitted by Scott Weitze on Sat, Jan 31, 2015

A quick update to this article. I spoke with James Chu, Supervising Civil Engineer at Public Works, about the Fruitvale Bridge and BB. He said that lifeline status for the bridge is the priority for the project but Public Works will also look at ways to do this without a complete bridge replacement if possible.