City Solicits Comments on Newest Caldecott List

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

As reported in the October 2013 issue of The Rockridge News, Oakland staff and consultants are well into designing many of the highest-ranking projects on the Caldecott Settlement project list. As detailed design of construction plans has unfolded, cost estimates have grown from the initial costs used to develop the list, in some cases significantly. The result is that fewer projects on the list will be funded than originally anticipated.

At the October 17 RCPC Town Hall meeting and via a letter e-mailed to over 200 affected residents, city staff described the current status of the project list and corresponding costs and outlined potential cost-cutting options. The four projects for which adjustments have been publicly suggested are:

Project #1 (Tunnel Rd/SR-13/Hiller Dr intersection improvements). The estimated cost of this project has risen from $950,000 to over $1.5 million. Meanwhile, the city of Berkeley has submitted plans to Caltrans for a new pedestrian-activated traffic signal on Tunnel Road at The Uplands and Caltrans has committed to clearing all sidewalk obstructions and rebuilding the missing section of sidewalk on the east/north side of Tunnel Road between Hiller Drive and Vicente Road. These planned and funded improvements will give pedestrians continuous access between the hills and west/south of Tunnel Road. Some say this renders the $680,000 sidewalk component currently included in this project redundant, although some still argue for keeping the sidewalk as per the original plan. Staff will be reviewing plans to reduce cost and scope while still adhering to the original intent of the project.

Project #6 (Jogging/walking path on Broadway between Golden Gate and Lake Temescal). After closer investigation, city engineering staff has determined that the project's retaining walls are not needed, and disturbing the existing jogging path could make it more prone to damage from storm water runoff. Instead, staff recommends that Caltrans, neighbors and the city work together to better maintain the area by cleaning the drainage ditch and pruning trees along the pathway. These activities are not eligible for Caldecott funds.

Projects #7-8 (SR-24 Noise Barrier Scope Summary Reports). Since original costs were estimated, the city has learned that Caltrans procedures have changed, causing the studies' costs to rise by $300,000. Furthermore, funding for soundwall construction will be extremely difficult or impossible to come by. A petition process is underway to make a determination on whether or not these studies will proceed.

Staff and their consultants are in the process of reviewing all comments received during the October 17-December 6 comment period to determine if any project changes are in order and if additional meetings are necessary.

For more information, contact the city's Caldecott projects consultant, Victoria Eisen, at victoria@eisenletunic.com or 510/525-0220.