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Monday, December 5, 2011

Jobs, People, Infrastructure, and TIGER on the Other Side of 880


In October, the City of Oakland asked the Feds to chip in $40 million to help create 5,000 jobs and build $438 million in improvements to the old Army Base in West Oakland – just on the other side of the freeway from Pacific Cannery Lofts. Last year Oakland won $2 million dollars in highly-competitive Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) TIGER funding to help plan for the future of the Army Base (on the other side of I-880) and West Oakland. This year, they went back to ask for $40 million to get to work building infrastructure in the area.

TIGER stands for Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery, and West Oakland’s fledgling economic recovery will get a big boost from the Army Base project. The huge Port expansion will bring more jobs, people, and dollars into the neighborhood, as those thousands of new workers spend their dollars at our local businesses (with hopefully more to come!). Our neighborhood stands to benefit from some of the transportation improvements too. The long-rumored 10th street connection across I-880 could get more traffic coming through the area and help turn some vacant lots and scrap yards into residences and businesses that contribute to the vitality of our neighborhood. Speaking of which, some of the industrial uses in the area like recycling and packing for shipping may move into the Army Base, meaning cleaner air in our immediate neighborhood and more sites for artists and small businesses to locate on this side of the freeway.

While the Port and City are committed to the Army Base expansion, $40 million from TIGER could mean more jobs soon. One of the main selection criteria for TIGER is near-term job creation. This is money the government wants to create jobs now. Hopefully that means that this money would catalyze some of those construction jobs rebuilding roads and rail lines would come to our City sooner, and that the long-term good Port jobs come sooner too. Unfortunately, with a lot of worthy projects around the country, and only $527 million available from TIGER to meet the over $14 billion in requests, let’s hope Oakland made a strong pitch and has real plans for creating those good jobs soon.

More detail:
2010 TIGER II Funds for Planning at the Army Base: http://www.bayareamonitor.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=228&Itemid=66
2011 TIGER III Application for $40 million to start work: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/cityadministrator/documents/pressrelease/oak032115.pdf

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