Alameda Point development could snarl traffic, study says
Alameda Point development could snarl traffic, study says
Proposed development at Alameda Point and elsewhere on the Island could back up traffic at a host of major intersections – in the Park Street business district, on the East End and in Oakland.
The finding was part of a draft study detailing the development’s potential impact on traffic, wildlife, air and water quality and a host of other items that was released by the city this week. The public has until October 21 to review and comment on the 1,000-page document and whether it adequately addresses the impact the development could have on the Island; public hearings are scheduled for Monday and September 25.
The study contemplates the potential impacts of 1,425 homes and 5 million square feet of office space at Alameda Point, which would put about 3,400 new residents and 8,900 jobs on 878 acres of the former Naval Air Station. It says the proposed development would create significant and unavoidable impacts to both traffic and the historic district even with measures designed to blunt those impacts.
Taken on its own, the Point development would generate an estimated 33,429 trips per day, a number that would include 2,928 morning peak and 3,294 afternoon peak trips. Its biggest traffic impacts could occur at a trio of Oakland intersections – Jackson and Sixth streets, Brush and 11th streets and 23rd and Seventh streets – that are just off-Island. But the finding was predicated in part on the fact that Alameda doesn’t control whether any traffic-easing solutions will be implemented at those intersections.
Taken in conjunction with other planned and in-progress developments on the Island, the project would contribute to peak-hour traffic delays at 16 intersections in Alameda and Oakland, even if roadway and signal improvements and programs aimed at getting people out of their cars are put in place; the study’s authors said they couldn’t determine how effective those programs would be until they’re up and running.
The list includes a trio of intersections on Park Street – at Clement Street, Blanding Avenue and Encinal Avenue – along with three major intersections on Otis Drive, High Street at Fernside Boulevard and Challenger Drive at Atlantic Avenue.
Still, the study shows that peak-hour traffic at many of those intersections will be just as bad by 2035 – the year its authors determined it would be fully built out based on a 2014 start – even without the Point project.
On its own, Point development is expected to create significant impacts for cyclists driving on Central Avenue, Main Street and Wilver “Willie” Stargell Avenue, the report’s authors said, though the study doesn’t contemplate the inclusion of bicycle paths on those streets. It is also anticipated the project would impact crossing times for pedestrians traversing Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway at Constitution Way and also, between Main and Webster streets. And it details significant impacts for pedestrians in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood that can’t be avoided since Alameda lacks the jurisdiction to make roadway or other improvements there.
The Point’s historic district has more than 100 contributing structures, and the study’s authors determined that after 16 years of sitting vacant save visiting vandals, some of them might be too costly to save. New development, along with new utilities and flood control measures meant to mitigate storm surges and sea level rise, could alter the character of the historic district and the buildings themselves.
Construction would also create unavoidable noise and air quality impacts, the study’s authors wrote.
Construction will impact dozens of protected birds, fish and other species that nest at or migrate through the Point and its watery environs. Dredging and pile driving – not to mention a new marina and ferry terminal – could disturb Bay waters that serve as prime breeding grounds for green sturgeon and steelhead trout, while opening a Bay Trail and other spaces now off-limits to people could impact nesting and migratory birds.
The study offers a host of solutions for blunting those impacts, including conditions imposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of nesting least terns and a laundry list of regulatory permits that must be obtain before the first pile driver roars to life. Those mitigations, they said, will make the impacts of redevelopment of the Point less than significant for animals already living on and around there.
The study also says that the impacts of tearing apart old buildings laden with lead paint and other toxics and also, building on contaminated land, can also be managed. It says that continued cleanup efforts and adherence to development and other land use restrictions on the Point will protect future residents and workers from exposure to toxics that are still in the groundwater and soil there.
In addition to the development city staffers are proposing, the study contemplated more than a half-dozen other development possibilities that included no new development, a preservation-focused plan, one with multifamily housing only and a high-density alternative that would contain 4,841 homes – the same number the Point’s most recent master developer, SunCal Companies, proposed – and 3.8 million square feet of commercial space. Those alternatives were studied for their potential impacts on the same items; with the exception of the no-build alternative, the report’s authors found little variation in impact across the plans.
Public hearings will be held at Monday’s Planning Board meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue; and a joint Planning Board and City Council meeting scheduled for September 25, which will also begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Interested persons and organizations may also submit comments in writing to City Planner Andrew Thomas, either in person or by mail to City Hall or by e-mail, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The comments will be incorporated into the final environmental study, which will then be considered for approval by the Planning Board and the council.
Separately, the city is conducting a survey to find out what locals would like to name a planned town center at the Point. Anyone interested in participating can pick from one of seven choices until the survey closes, at 6 p.m. September 24.