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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

West Oakland BART Streetscape Improvements

For months Oakland has been rebuilding and tidying things up around the West Oakland BART station. This week the City has been repaving 7th street and putting landscaping in the medians. The new sculptural bent poles ("dancing lights" - ?) along 7th street are a little baffling, but I appreciate how well lit the street is now. Other stuff like better sidewalks, better crossings, new trees, etc is all much easier to appreciate. Walking by there twice a day on my commute between PCL and San Francisco, it certainly makes the walk or bike ride a little nicer with every passing week.

The good news is, this is just phase I, and it looks like its going to keep getting better. The City actually has some pretty big plans for the street, running from a roundabout at Wood Street, down a well lit and landscaped 8 or so blocks to a gateway at Union Street.
(see the whole report and more graphics at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CEDA/o/Redevelopment/o/WestOakland/index.htm).
Here are some of the nice improvements to the neighborhood that are coming our way:
  • slower traffic on 7th street as they narrow the whole corridor by widening sidewalks and putting in a big landscaped median.
  • landscaped medians along a lot of the corridor and a landscaped roundabout at 7th and Wood.
  • sidewalk bulbouts at corners to shorten crossing distances, give more space for waiting, slow traffic.
  • "tabled" (raised) intersections and crosswalks to again slow cars, and also make crossing a little easier and intersections a little better looking.
  • More lighting! Some cool historic lighting, more of the dancing lights (though I think these are a little silly and folks may regret a few years from now), and LED lighting on the BART elevated structure (this could be pretty cool).
  • More trees! little pockets (what they generously call "groves" - we'll see about that), medians, and just regular trees along 7th.
  • And some stuff that might be a little silly, but can't hurt, like a "walk of fame" and a gateway across 7th at Union Street.
  • And finally a bunch of little, nice, convenient stuff that will just make it all better looking and more comfortable, like trash cans, seating, and designey fences and rails around landscaping and along uglier lots fronting on the sidewalk.

Sounds like the commute is going to keep getting a little nicer from one week to the next.

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