Lilian Grattan is a motivational speaker and business coach
Temescal is an eclectic, culturally diverse neighborhood that offers a variety of shopping and dining opportunities. New investment and public improvements are reclaiming the charm and character of the once predominantly Italian neighborhood. This Italian heritage can be tasted at Genova’s Delicatessen. From chocolates and antiques to videos and vermicelli, Temescal’s merchants offer a variety of products. The area’s pedestrian-friendly characteristics include large street trees, traditional glass storefronts, wide sidewalks and appealing facades. Ready freeway access makes the district easily accessible to local and regional shoppers.
Temescal Place is the newest development in the Temescal .... Click Here
AC Bus Rapid Transit (Telegraph Avenue)
AC Transit is interested in putting dedicated bus lanes on Telegraph for buses. The Temescal Merchants Association and NCPC do not favor dedicated lanes along Telegraph. The Merchants Association expects such dedicated lanes will negatively affect traffic along this main corridor and suggested alternatives to dedicated bus lanes.
TMA Letter to AC Transit
RE: BUS RAPID TRANSIT ENVIRONMENT TELEGRAPH AVE. CORRIDOR
The Temescal Merchants Association would like to thank you and the consultants undertaking the environmental study for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the East Bay for meeting with us on April 14 and informing us of the issues being considered in the study. The Temescal Merchants Association has considered the scope of the study that was presented to us and feels strongly that there needs to be an additional area of North Oakland for which more options need to be considered. That area is Telegraph Avenue between 57th and 40th Streets, which we will refer to in this letter as the Temescal Commercial Corridor.
The Temescal Commercial Corridor is a rapidly growing commercial center. Vehicular traffic along this part of Telegraph Ave. is frequently dense and slow, particularly during rush hours. It is not uncommon for it to take more than one cycle of traffic signals to move through the 51st/Telegraph/Claremont intersection. There can be no question that removal of a traffic lane in each direction will create a major traffic bottleneck along Telegraph Ave. during certain hours of the day. For that reason, alternatives to the proposed configuration need to be seriously considered and a more functional configuration adopted for the BRT in the Temescal Commercial Corridor.
The 51st/Telegraph/Claremont intersection is one of the most heavily traveled in Oakland. It is unique along Telegraph Ave., being impacted by four freeway on and off ramps, being the cross street for major east/west and north/south streets in North Oakland and being just a few blocks from the MacArthur BART station. The layout of streets at the intersection is certainly not optimal. Traffic frequently slows behind cars parking and trucks stopped to make deliveries to neighborhood businesses. A fire station is adjacent to the intersection and police/highway patrol use Telegraph for high speed movement. The concentration of hospitals on either side of Telegraph within two miles of the intersection results in Telegraph being a major corridor for speeding ambulances.
The current problems will be compounded in the future if care is not taken. The area is targeted for further growth and change in the Oakland General Plan, including a significant increase in housing and housing density to the west of Telegraph Ave between 40th and 51st Streets. Development of the MacArthur Transit Village, with hundreds of new housing units, is beginning to accelerate.
Given all of the above, it is difficult to imagine a less desirable configuration for BRT in the Temescal Commercial Corridor than the proposed removal of a traffic lane in each direction. For BRT to make a valuable contribution to transportation options in this area, and not to create new burdens, an alternative configuration will have to be identified and implemented.
To assist AC Transit, the Temescal Merchants Association has adopted several criteria that the BRT configuration in the Temescal Commercial Corridor should meet in order to make a positive contribution to our community. These criteria relate only to the Temescal Commercial Corridor; we do not purport to comment on criteria applicable to other parts of the BRT system:
- The BRT configuration must be consistent with the smooth flow of traffic in the area.
- Telegraph Ave. should not be narrowed and traffic lanes should not be removed
- Left turn lanes should not be removed
- BRT and the Telegraph Bike Lane are being proposed to occupy existing traffic lanes through the Temescal Commercial Corridor. Specific attention is required to the functionality of these proposed multi-modal uses to avoid conflicts that would bring traffic to a standstill many times during the day and create a public safety nightmar
- The BRT configuration must be consistent with the continuing growth and prosperity of the neighborhood commercial center and more housing in the Temescal Commercial Corridor.
- No parking spaces should be eliminated
- Sidewalks should not be narrowed
We have identified at least three alternative configurations that meet these criteria and that should be considered in the Temescal Commercial Corridor:
- Re-route the BRT in the problem area
This would involve routing BRT along Shattuck Ave and 55th St. between 55th St. and the Telegraph/Shattuck intersection. BRT would move from the median to the right traffic lane on Shattuck and along Telegraph between 58th and 55th Streets and between 45th and 40th Streets. There would be bus controlled traffic signals at 55th and Telegraph, 55th and Shattuck, 51st and Shattuck, and 45th and Telegraph. No existing traffic lanes would be removed in the Temescal Commercial Corridor. The benefits of this option include:
- There would be much less traffic disruption as traffic on Shattuck and 55th St. is much lighter than on Telegraph in this area;
- There would be much less impact on public safety and commercial uses as these uses on Shattuck and 55th St. in this area are much less than along Telegraph;
- A Temescal BRT stop at 50th and Shattuck would be less than 100 yards from the proposed stop at 50th and Telegraph and would benefit the smaller commercial area along Shattuck at 50th St.;
- There would be a cost saving from avoiding the cost of a exclusive BRT median along Telegraph for approximately 1.5 miles;
- There would appear to be very little degradation of transit times with this change; and
- This would be the most desirable configuration if BRT is routed into the MacArthur BART station.
- Joint Use of Traffic Lanes with Cars
This would keep BRT in the median of Telegraph in the Temescal Commercial Area, but not in an exclusive lane. BRT would share the left turn lanes with cars and would have the ability to control traffic signals so BRT can maintain its schedule. This technique is commonly used in BRT and light rail systems around the world in locations where an exclusive lane is not practical. The benefits of this option include:
- Less disruption of regular car traffic, commercial traffic and public safety traffic than the proposed configuration;
- Less BRT turning than the diversion along Shattuck suggested above;
- Reduced costs from avoiding the cost of an exclusive BRT median along Telegraph for approximately 1.5 miles; and
- Little, if any, change in BRT transit times.
- Underground BRT
This would involve placing BRT under Telegraph Ave. between approximately 58th St. to 40th St. Although this option would increase costs, it would avoid all of the negative impacts of the proposed configuration, except for disruption during construction, and would increase the speed of BRT through the Temescal Commercial Corridor. The Merchants Association notes that Berkeley voted several decades ago to pay for the cost to underground BART through that city and a similar vote could be taken in North Oakland regarding BRT in Temescal.
We have undertaken research to provide more specific information regarding the environmental impacts of the proposed BRT configuration in our area and how these can be mitigated by the alternatives. We would like to meet with you and the consultant team in the next few weeks to obtain your initial views on our suggestions and other options that you believe should be considered. By September we hope to be in a position to present more specific information to you on both the status quo and various configuration options.
Thank you for your consideration. [PBN-CLIENT]