Transportation funding keeps flowing into Oakland – last week, the Go Uptown project received $6.3 million via an extremely competitive federal TIGER grant. A joint effort between BART and the City, the Go Uptown project will cover a range of improvements to modernize 19th Street Station and improve station access and wayfinding:
“BART improvements include replacing aging infrastructure to ensure safer service, modernizing the station for greater passenger comfort, expanding ADA and multi-modal access, and expanding capacity with improved fare gates and more entry points. Riders will have access to two new glass elevators at the north end of the BART station and a new entrance directly into the old Sears building. There will be additional bike racks and new bike stairway channels to help cyclists safely roll bikes up and down the stairs. The appearance of the station will also be enhanced with energy efficient LED lighting, new glass railings and fare barriers (instead of the waist-high metal fence), new paint, repairs to the terrazzo flooring and ceramic wall tiles, and the addition of public art.”
BART’s improvements will occur in tandem with the 20th Street Complete Streets project, which will undertake a road diet for a portion of 20th Street while widening sidewalks and adding bike lanes and bus bulbs.
The Go Uptown project is desperately needed to keep pace with explosive ridership growth at 19th Street Station. Over the past decade, ridership at 19th Street Station has skyrocketed by 55 percent, representing the fastest growth rate of legacy stations in the BART system (excluding the SFO extension). During this same period, ridership has grown by 28 percent systemwide. The development of new housing and a reinvigorated office and entertainment market has driven this growth. This trend is likely to continue as thousands of housing units are awaiting construction and Uber’s headquarters will soon open. However, the infrastructure hasn’t kept up: existing streets like 20th Street remain car-oriented despite peak period pedestrian volumes that exceed car volumes, and station access/egress has limited capacity and routinely experiences long queues.
Uptown is changing rapidly; however, and infrastructure improvements like the Go Uptown project are leading the way. Other noteworthy projects include:
• Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Project (interim design complete with additional curb extensions pending)
• Lakeside Green Streets Project (construction beginning Fall 2016)
• 27th Street Complete Streets Project (construction TBD)
• Latham Square Renovation (recently completed)
• East Bay BRT (construction to begin soon)
It’s great to see the City being proactive in accommodating transportation changes to support Uptown’s transformation into an urban center. Moreover, the City is well positioned to deliver these improvements through its recent formation of OakDOT, the Department of Transportation. Five years from now, Uptown should be a much more walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly place.