Council to consider ranked list of transportation projects

Council to consider ranked list of transportation projects

Michele Ellson

A plan that would improve commute access to Alameda from Oakland is the top priority on a list of road, bicycle, pedestrian and transit improvements the City Council is set to consider at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The prioritized list of 43 projects is being submitted by city staff in the wake of concerns raised by Councilwoman Lena Tam that an earlier of projects to be funded with proposed Measure B sales tax funding had not been properly vetted by the public. The new list is expected to be used to determine which projects to put forward for other funding opportunities.

The top project on the list would provide transportation and circulation improvements at the I-880/Broadway/Jackson interchange in Oakland and related improvements along the corridors in Alameda and Oakland that lead up to it. Some $75 million of its $189 million cost would be covered by a county sales tax for transportation if voters approve a plan this November, dubbed B3, to double and extend the tax in perpetuity.

City staffers also requested B3 funding for a $94 million redo of the Miller Sweeney Bridge that would give the Island sure access to the outside world in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. The bridge project is ranked #3 on the city’s draft list. And they asked for $9 million for rapid bus service, which sits at #8.

A new bicycle and pedestrian crossing on the Oakland Estuary occupies two spots on the draft priority list. The $1 million environmental study for the crossing is #2 on the list, but its $48 million construction cost is #11.

Other projects on the top of the list include bicycle improvements on Clement Avenue; SMART corridor projects intended to speed transit service and give riders real-time information on transit availability; a cross-Alameda trail; basic street, sidewalk and trail maintenance; new and improved traffic signals; and bicycle improvements along Central Avenue.

Projects were ranked according to the transit and economic development benefits each is expected to provide, along with its regional significance and readiness. The list was submitted to the city’s Transportation Commission and Planning Board in January and February, and their rankings of the projects – some of which differ from those on the point scale – are included.

The list of projects was culled from earlier city planning efforts, including bicycle, pedestrian and community-based transportation plans.

Tam had asked her dais-mates to hold off on endorsing the proposed transportation tax increase until Alameda residents got a better opportunity to learn about the list of local projects the money would pay for. But county transportation officials got the assent of enough of the county’s other cities to put the tax plan on the ballot.

Local projects that would be paid for by the transportation tax include replacement of the Park Street and High Street bridges. The Island would also see more money for bus service, roads, bike and pedestrian safety and paratransit.

In addition to the list, the council is set to consider a plan intended to get the public more involved in the city’s decision-making process and to officially introduce the city’s new recreation and park director, who reporters have identified as Amy Wooldridge. Wooldridge reportedly resigned the same post in Pinole and will begin work here May 7.

The public portion of the meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.

WHAT IT COSTS

Here are the top 10 transportation projects on the city's draft list, which the City Council is being asked to approve Tuesday, and what they will cost. All projects in 2012-2013 dollars unless noted.

1. I-880/Broadway/Jackson multimodal project: $189 million

2. Estuary Crossing Project study report/environmental impact report: $1 million (2008 dollars)

3. New Miller Sweeney Bridge: $94 million

4. Clement Avenue bicycle improvements: $42,000

5. SMART Corridor projects: $3,500 per sign; $5,000 annually for operations/maintenance (2009 dollars)

6. Cross-Alameda trail multimodal facility: $1,414,000 (2009 dollars)

7. Maintenance of streets, sidewalks and trails: $5 million per year

8. Rapid Bus Service to Alameda Point: $9 million

9. Traffic signal installations and upgrades: $150,000 for bicycle detection (2009 dollars); $1.2 million for accessible pedestrian and countdown signals (2008 dollars); $450,000 per installation (2011 dollars)

10. Central Avenue bicycle improvements: $95,000 (2009 dollars)

Source: City of Alameda