Island-wide traffic plan up for discussion
Island-wide traffic plan up for discussion
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.