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Traffic Improvements Will Increase Traffic Congestion on Bay Farm Island

Updated 9/25/09, 11:25 am to clarify statement by Eugenie Thomson about I-880 interchange.

By Erica Madison

For the last ten years, the Alameda Congestion Management Agency has been looking for a way to improve freeway access from High St. to Broadway. A recent study reveals that the new plan to reduce congestion may actually make it worse for Alameda commuters.

The problem with the section between High St. and Broadway, is that this section is below standard criterion. According to Traffic Engineer Eugenie Thomson, this results in little to no shoulders, and merge lanes are too short for merging from the High St. Ramp.

To add to the problem, a new plan has come out that will unfortunately make matters worse. Currently the Fruitvale Bridge has four lanes, but a new plan will cut those lanes down to two.

“AC transit has plans to make two of the four lanes a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit.” said Bus Rapid Transit Project Manager, Jim Cunradi. The dedicated lanes will continue from the Fruitvale exit to the Bart Station

As it stands, the Fruitvale exit doesn’t allow a good connection to I-880, because commuters can’t go east or south. Reducing the lanes will lead to increased traffic on Park St., High St., and Otis Drive.

“Using Otis will impact Bay Farm Island traffic at Doolittle and Island Drive” said Thomson.

On Wednesday, Aug. 26 2009, a special study on I-880 finally revealed a plan to solve this decade long issue. The city of Oakland has proposed using 42nd street as an additional connection point to I-880.

According to Eugenie Thomson, this idea was originally proposed in 1999.  In a letter to Mayor Appezzato, Thomson writes: A new I-880 interchange with a focus on both High Street and Fruitvale Avenue, would increase the vehicular capacity to/from Alameda across the estuary. And if this is possible, an alternative route such as Tilden Way to Park Street from I 880 south, could reduce travel through the Fernside neighborhood.

However Thomson warns that we should not start reducing our capacity on our estuary crossing and instead we need to be working with public agencies to improve safety and operations on I-880 and improve connections from the Fruitvale bridge to and from I-880.

“The current configuration leads to drivers expecting higher speed facilities after exiting the freeway, which could lead to higher accidents and higher severity of accidents.” Said Thomson.

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