A 2035 Rail Plan for Oakland
- More capacity
- Redundancy to ensure a resilient city after a major quake
- Reduce dependency on automobile – more transit options
- Upgrade the First Transbay Tube
- Create more housing and jobs in existing city centers, and other neighborhoods
We are at a critical moment when BART is beginning studies for a new 2nd Transbay Tube, mayors of San Francisco and Oakland have publicly supported a new tube, and city staff in Alameda have voiced support. We cannot plan and fiddle around to build a 2nd Tube for 30 years. We need to develop a host of funding sources, plan the project and start building within seven years so a tube can be operational by 2026. I'll discuss funding, which is critical, later.
Most folks will want to see the rail options and maps now. I have outlined the reasons for a new Transbay Tube and rail lines after the maps.
Factors in deciding where a new Transbay Tube should go
- A High Speed Rail station in Oakland (in or near downtown)
- Rail lines that could interlink with BART's existing rail lines.
- Lines that pass through Downtown Oakland, Alameda, and sometimes Emeryville
The idea for a Third Transbay Tube comes from Roland Lebrun, who suggests that conventional rail should arrive in the former Oakland Army Base because rail from the San Francisco Transbay Center should leave via Howard Street in SF. To keep things simple, let's call this the Key Route alignment since this is where Key Route rail passed before the Bay Bridge was built.
- Two BART rail approaches from north (yellow and red lines), and south (blue and green lines).
- Phase-able: Alameda Atlantic Tunnel can be built with new Transbay Tube before the Broadway Estuary Tunnel is built and relieve the First Transbay Tube.
- HSR Maintenance Facility at Port of Oakland would be within 10 miles of San Francisco's Transbay Center.
- Jack London HSR station close to Downtown, although not in Downtown. The Jack London BART Station offers easy access to Downtown Oakland, San Francisco, and points north.
- 40th Street Emeryville station creates new access to Emeryville's growing work and residential markets. Service would probably come from Caltrain and new Eastshore Rail but probably not CapCorridor, Amtrak or HSR.
- Affordable: This is the least expensive option, but also the most limited in scope and benefits.
- Infill Stations: will increase access to BART and other rail throughout the region. San Antonio and 55th Ave stations should be high on the list due to their existing high neighborhood densities.
- Oakland Embarcadero Rail not grade separated, freight and passenger trains still run along the surface on Embarcadero - continuing the existing hazard and separating Jack London from points north.
- Key Route approach far from HSR Station - commuter trains from San Francisco must wind their way from near Emeryville around West Oakland to Jack London. The route also makes a future Eastshore rail from Hercules and Berkeley bypass Downtown Oakland if it went on to San Francisco.
- No new Downtown Oakland stations so no new access or development opportunities.
- No new Oakland neighborhood line so no new access to existing dense neighborhoods or opportunity for new dense developments.
- Oakland gets a bad deal while San Francisco develops extensive reach into its western neighborhoods. Oakland should be asking for its own phased in new rail alignments to serve its dense and future dense neighborhoods that are poorly served by BART and are not near the existing CapCorridor rail alignment.
Eliminating or decking over I-980 makes sense both for building a rail line in the current trench, but also because it would relink West Oakland to Downtown. I-980 was only completed south of West Grand in 1985. We here at Urban Life Signs proposed a rail line in I-980 back in 2011, when we suggested using half of the trench of rail and keeping the other half for freeway traffic. Others such as ConnectOakland have suggested filling in the entire freeway and replacing it with a boulevard.
|Image: Urban Life Signs|
In addition, BART could easily connect to an adapted I-980 freeway. The tracks run in the median between I-580 Nimitz Freeway until 27th Street. They could easily have new tracks connecting to an I-980 alignment south of 27th St and West Grand. Building this connection, along with a 2nd Transbay Tube, would allow much more flexibility and shorten construction time in building the Broadway Estuary Tunnel from the Oakland Wye (at Broadway and 9th St) to Alameda.
- Four-Bore Transbay Tube reduces costs compared to two 2-bore tubes.
- New Downtown Stations at 14th & Castro, 19th & Telegraph (transfers to BART's 19th St Station) and Jack London Square.
- I-980 allows for a new Oakland Central Station for HSR, Amtrak, Cap Corridor, Eastshore and possible BART service from the yellow or red lines.
- Third Street and Second Street Tunnels take rail off the surface of Embarcadero. The two tunnels also separate freight and passenger rail through central Oakland.
- MacArthur Eastmont Stations would be built long term, serving high density neighborhoods in Oakland. Alameda receives one new station in its denser Alameda Point area.
- Higher Costs, to build the San Pablo Tunnel, but less expensive due to the I-980 alignment already being dug out.
- Oakland Central Station is a moderate walk to Broadway (0.4 miles or a 7-minute walk). However to points between like Ask.com or the Dellums Federal Building, it is only a short walk (0.2 miles or a 4-minute walk).
- Reduces or eliminates I-980 freeway traffic capacity. One option is to place rail on one side of I-980, while the freeway vehicle lanes are reduced from 6 to 4 lanes and places on the west side of the current freeway. Or the freeway could be removed all together and replaced with boulevard or by redirecting traffic to Brush and Castro streets.
- Four-Bore Transbay Tube reduces costs compared to two 2-bore tubes.
- New Downtown Station at Jack London Square.
- Fifth Street passenger rail viaduct and Second Street freight rail tunnel take rail off the surface of Embarcadero. The two alignments also separate freight and passenger rail through central Oakland.
- MacArthur Eastmont Stations would be built long term, serving high density neighborhoods in Oakland. Alameda receives three new station.
- Higher Costs, to build the Second St Tunnel, but less so for the 5th Street Viaduct.
- Jack London Station is a moderate walk to 11th St (0.3 miles or a 7-minute walk). However it requires going under the very wide I-880 which is not very pedestrian inviting.
- Requires a BART gauge system for all new alignments apart from the West Estuary Tunnel connecting the 2nd Transbay Tube to Union Pacific tracks in the Port of Oakland.
- Two- Two-Bore Transbay Tubes allows for costs to be spread out over time even though it is more expensive than building a single four-bore tube.
- New Downtown Stations at 12th & Broadway, Jack London Square.
- A new 12th St Oakland HSR Station for HSR, Amtrak, Cap Corridor, Eastshore and BART connections.
- A new 40th St Emeryville Station with direct access to San Francisco, Downtown Oakland and points north because it is along a new transbay tube.
- San Pablo and Second Street Tunnels take rail off the surface of Embarcadero. The two tunnels also separate freight and passenger rail through central Oakland.
- San Pablo Tunnel further north continues the separation between freight and passenger rail, allowing for more passenger service that is not disrupted by freight traffic.
- MacArthur Eastmont Stations would be built long term, serving high density neighborhoods in Oakland, including East Lake and the Park Blvd corridor. Alameda receives one new station in its denser Alameda Point area.
- Much Higher Costs, to build the San Pablo Tunnel, especially north of MacArthur.
- Only adds one new station near Downtown: Although a new 12th St station is created it is located exactly where the existing BART station is situated. This does not increase access to new areas of downtown; it only increases access in an area that already has access..