Island-wide traffic plan up for discussion

Island-wide traffic plan up for discussion

Michele Ellson
Posey Tube

Updated in BOLD at 8:31 a.m. Tuesday, February 24 to reflect a correction regarding the date of the joint meeting.

City leaders are set to develop an Island-wide plan to address what one city staffer identified as “the single most debated issue” generated by new development – traffic.

The city’s Transportation Commission and Planning Board will meet Wednesday to discuss the effort. The City Council, which is expected to discuss the proposed plan on March 10, will also be present to weigh in.

City staffers estimate that it will take 12 to 18 months to draft the plan, and that its cost will range from $250,000 to $400,000. They are asking all three bodies to decide whether reducing solo vehicle trips through the tubes during peak commute hours should be the plan’s overarching goal.

City staffers say they’ve done a raft of plans and studies to address the effects of traffic caused by new development and to blunt those effects by making its streets more walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented. Developers at Alameda Landing, Alameda Point and along the Island’s Northern Waterfront are required to submit plans addressing how they will reduce anticipated vehicle trips during peak hours.

But in a report to the commission and board, Alameda Point Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Ott, who is spearheading the plan process, conceded that more work could be done to reduce traffic through the tubes during peak commute hours. In her report, Ott said changes could include an update for the city’s 15-year-old transit plan and integration of the traffic management plans created for new developments into a single, centralized effort.

Ott said the city should not seek to draft a new transportation element of its general plan. But, she wrote in a separate presentation to be offered Thursday, the city should keep an eye on evolving trends and technologies that include a decline in the number of miles Americans travel in their cars and driverless cars.

In a referral seeking his dais-mates’ approval to move forward with a more global plan, City Councilman Tony Daysog said he thinks the planning process for addressing traffic to be generated by new developments has been too piecemeal, and the plans submitted by developers of new housing and commercial projects too vague to effectively monitor success.

“With Alameda Point ‘Parcel A,’ Alameda Point in general, Alameda Landing, and the Del Monte projects, I am seeing a need for a comprehensive transit\traffic strategic plan and implementation tool,” Daysog wrote in a December 22 e-mail seeking discussion of a more comprehensive plan.

“I am driven to request Council to lead this discussion because, with the Alameda Point discussion of November 2014 and Del Monte matter … I am seeing (traffic management plans) that are too vague in terms of how problems, solutions, goals, benchmarks, and penalties relate to one another,” added Daysog, who has advocated for transit-oriented development at Alameda Point.

Alameda’s general plan contains a transportation element that spells out goals, objectives and policies designed to maintain mobility around, on and off the Island. The city also has specific plans addressing its bike, pedestrian and transit networks, and traffic management plans specific to new developments, which have also been subject to analyses of the traffic each is expected to generate.

The developer and tenants at Alameda Landing, for example, are funding a shuttle service intended to provide convenient access to BART in downtown Oakland. Both the city and Brookfield Partners, which now owns the Marina Village office and retail development, operate similar cross-estuary shuttles.

The city’s primary strategies for blunting traffic generated by new development entail the development of housing that attracts residents who will make fewer solo trips in cars and also, of better pedestrian and bicycle networks and more efficient and available transit.

Projects designed to support those strategies include the just-completed Shore Line Drive bikeway, West End “queue jump” lanes that will allow buses faster access to the Posey Tube and the Cross Alameda Trail. On Thursday, the Transportation Commission and Planning Board will consider approval of the preliminary design for the first segment of the trail, which will sit along Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway between Main and Webster streets.

The Shore Line bikeway is one of several projects designed to provide cyclists and transit better access to Alameda’s streets and pedestrians, safer and easier passage around the Island. Community workshops for one such project, to redesign Clement Avenue as a “complete street” with space for cars, trucks and bikes, are scheduled for March and April.

The city is also hoping to secure approvals and financing for a new ferry terminal that would anchor a transit-oriented development on Alameda Point’s Seaplane Lagoon, and Ott’s presentation envisions the potential for water shuttles that would ferry commuters across the estuary, to and from Oakland.

On Thursday the commission will also consider approval of a proposal to apply for a $10 million federal grant that would help fund road upgrades and trails on and around Alameda Point that would improve access for pedestrians, cyclists and transit. The improvements would help accommodate development at Alameda Point by stitching it in more effectively with the region’s transportation network, erasing the Island’s isolation from the rest of the Bay Area.

The total cost of the improvements is $20.5 million; additional funding for the project would be paid using $8 million in countywide transportation sales tax money and $2.5 million from Alameda Point Site A developers Alameda Point Partners.

The joint meeting begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. It will be broadcast live on Comcast cable channel 15 and AT&T cable channel 99 and webcast live on the city’s website.

An agenda containing staff reports, presentations and other documents regarding the proposed citywide transportation plan and other items on the combined bodies’ agenda is available on the city’s website.

Comments

Submitted by Patti C (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

As a native of Alameda and someone who was in New Orleans before, during and after the levees broke in 2005, I hope the "city leaders" truly grasp the bigger picture. Traffic in Alameda isn't just a commuter, nature lover or shopper's inconvenience - it is a danger. With limited ways off the island and no comprehensive emergency evacuation plan, residents should be very concerned. Perhaps a smart marketing ploy for developers and city planners should be a complimentary rowboat for every new tenant.

Submitted by MJ (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

"City staffers say they’ve done a raft of plans and studies to address the effects of traffic caused by new development and to blunt those effects by making its streets more walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented. Developers at Alameda Landing, Alameda Point and along the Island’s Northern Waterfront are required to submit plans addressing how they will reduce anticipated vehicle trips during peak hours."

"It's streets more walkable?" Walk the streets, if you want, there is no systemic impediment to walking.

What the above really means is more developments/residents/cars and on top of it we'll make life so miserable for people driving that they are forced to not drive.

Few citizens have asked for worse traffic to make this fascist plan a reality. And yet, there is city government pursuing its own dream of life on the island. This is clearly contrary to the will of, no doubt, the majority of Alamedans.

Did anyone ever ask Alamedans, "Hey, we're going to approve all these developments whether you like it or not and we're thinking that if we screw up traffic even more, maybe bus lanes, fewer car lanes, less parking, maybe parking permits... that we can force you to not drive. What do you think, Alameda Resident - would you like to be forced to not drive?"

No, almost no one cares what most actual Alamedans want. These planners believe they have bigger brains than the people who live here and that they know what is best for us. We're like children who need their parental guidance.

What does it take to fire some city planners?

Submitted by David (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

Any plan will need to take into account the concerns of Oakland Chinatown residents, and their past threats of lawsuits over increased traffic/development in Alameda's west-end, and events like we saw yesterday and last week - auto accidents in the tube that cause congestion, and increase local emissions from cars idling in traffic.

Submitted by Sue Spiersch (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

The tubes in & out of Alameda are not the traffic issue. It's the Park st area and the central parts of the island & getting around in general.

Submitted by KurtP (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

This is way overdue. The plan should contain the ability to adjust for new proposed development traffic numbers. This would allow the city to see the real impact each will have on our overall traffic patterns. I strongly agree with Mr. Daysog's comment that some type of controls must be in place to make sure that developers achieve and maintain their traffic goals. The city is moving in the correct direction with planning before building rather than just building and seeing what happens.

Submitted by Kahu247 (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

I like how the old board called emergency sessions rite before their terms were over, to rush all thos development thru! (This comment has been edited to meet our commenting standards.)

Submitted by Carrie (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

Sue I'm not sure why you say the tubes aren't you must not live on the west end. They are just as bad and with the new developments coming will be worse

Submitted by MJ (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

KurtP, how can you say, "The city is moving in the correct direction with planning before building rather than just building and seeing what happens?"

Is there a moratorium on development while the city takes a year or two to come up with a plan? ...not that the plan will make traffic better.

Submitted by marilynpomeroy (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

It is difficult to feel confident that transit centered development will work in the future, when we can't seem to get a bus route to the ferry terminal as it is. Making bike lanes on South shore is a fine idea but only addresses the recreational needs of people who live here.
"The improvements would help accommodate development at Alameda Point by stitching it in more effectively with the region’s transportation network, erasing the Island’s isolation from the rest of the Bay Area."
Think about that sentence, do we really believe that road upgrades and trails will have this effect? And "keeping an eye on evolving trends and technologies"? Is this what we are left with? What ever happened to public policy? If you want to get people out of their cars, you need to create incentives for them to do so. How about rebates for using public transportation to get to work? How about creating tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire local people? The city should be talking to the business community to see how this could be put into effect. Alameda is unique in all of the country, as far as I can tell, there is not another island city located smack in the middle of a big metropolitan area,(well, Manhattan maybe) so we have to start thinking about our unique situation in a way that is creative, and maybe a little radical. How about a toll to use the tube? A tax on second cars?
Where ever you live in Alameda, you are already experiencing the traffic problems which will only increase once these areas are built out. For a city wide traffic study to have any impact we would need to declare a moratorium on development pending the results, and then take action based on those results, which I suspect would land us in court. I am happy that Tony is backing this, just wish it had come along sooner.

Submitted by Eugenie Thomson (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

Like most people, I think you will agree that plain talk is where truth resides.

and the plain fact is the Ala PT EIR last year came to the most ridiculous traffic conclusion that is the Alameda Point Project would:

a) add only one more car outbound for ALL of the estuary crossings in 2035 AM peak hour.

b) with final volume of 2681 vph into the Posey Tube during the year 2035 AM peak hour, less than the historical traffic since the Base closure and significantly less than the 3600 vph capacity of the two lane Posey Tube.

and c) No congestion approaching the Posey Tube in the AM peak from all these new homes.

The Final EIR did not provide any substantiation in response to my comments regarding these plain facts in the Draft EIR.

A public record request was made on Oct 6, 2013 but this data arrived after Planning Board hearing and approval, (mid January 2014). And these records once again show the ridiculous traffic results.

The Del Monte Project Mitigated Negative Declaration used the same data as a basis.

How much longer will it take residents to leave the island? Why no significant traffic impacts at the west end?

These and many other questions remain unanswered and are critical to residents on the Island.

Most of us know that, when the facts are on our side, there is no need to bury them in complexity. The truth can withstand the sunshine of public scrutiny.

I urge the new city Council to look at the plain facts in the Alameda Point EIR and perform a reality based traffic study before any new action at Alameda Point and – with a process that places citizens squarely at the center of the debate; a process that recognizes that the very purpose of city government is to respond to the concerns of its citizens; a process that emphasizes the “public” in the term “public servant.”

Thank you Tony Daysog for standing up for Alamedans.

Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

There have been several terrible crashes in the tubes recently that created immense traffic problems. There was one just yesterday morning in the Webster Tube leading into Alameda. When a tube closes, it creates traffic problems all over the Island. Some motorists cannot control themselves in the Tubes and drive at high speeds whipping through traffic. Better enforcement in the tubes would help to lessen the problem.

Submitted by MJ (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

Steve, I agree... high speed crashes in the tube are terrible. Thing is, it's hard to have a high speed crash in a traffic jam. In that sense, the mega housing projects and bogus traffic plans are actually an unintentional traffic safety initiative.

Submitted by Keith Nealy (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

Where are our county, state, and federal representatives to help us solve west end access? Why aren't we demanding their help? We need a major new way to get on and off the island at the west end. Bridge, tunnel, ferry, whatever. Why give up on finding support and funding for more access? We've got only one way on and off the island at the west end. The other end has several. If there were more at the west end, it would relieve some of the congestion on the east end.

Submitted by Me (not verified) on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

Webster tube not an issue? Huh?