Taking the subway to Oakland's KONO and a big hub in Jack London

Urban Life Signs returns to Transbay Crossing alignment and station analysis. For the first time in a long time, we look at Oakland. (The last time we looked at alignments was back in mid 2016 and 2015)

Talk of a 2nd Transbay Rail Crossing has continued to be part of the transportation conversation for over a year:
  • SB 595, created by the MTC calls for an election to raise bridge tolls to fund multiple transportation projects was signed into law by the governor in October 2017. The bill and future ballot measure includes funding for a new second Transbay rail crossing.
  • The MTC Core Capacity Transit Study wrapped up in September 2017, with a considerable portion focused on a 2nd Transbay crossing.
  • The draft State Rail Plan was release a few months ago with comments closing yesterday, December 11, 2017.
  • Dianne Feinstein renewed her calls for a Southern Crossing, which she called to have both BART and vehicular traffic. (December 6, 2017)
This time around I'll be looking at where they trains could go, the tradeoffs, the opportunities, the challenges, and the timing for Oakland– not my usual San Francisco analysis (1, 2, 3). Just like earlier this year, I'll be looking at different options independently.  For Oakland, I'll be calling the alignments by park or open-space names. Because I'll be showing both BART and Capitol Corridor/ Amtrak/ Caltrain/HSR, creating names by major streets would get really long and confusing.

Full disclosure, I am a founding member of ConnectOAKLAND. The group advocates for a particular alignment for future rail in Oakland. I am an advocate for the ConnectOAKLAND 980 alignment. However, I believe that all alignments should be considered for their pros and cons (cost/benefit, people it serves, future riders, construction costs and disruption, etc.). This series of posts is my way of looking at the many alternatives.

I've only slightly reoriented the maps with Broadway pointing "north and south" rather than its actual northeast/southwest axis.

Snow Park Alignment: BART along Jackson St and 27th St; Capitol Corridor along 2nd St. Image: Urban Life Signs/Brian Stokle
Today we're looking at what a Jackson Street alignment through Lake Merritt Station might look like. We're calling this the Snow Park alignment seeing that it goes under Snow Park near the shores of Lake Merritt. I chose this alignment, the BART alignment, in part, to show where a line parallel to BART's Broadway line might go that is in the "Goldilocks" distance from another line, which is 0.3 to 0.5 miles away. Jackson Street is in the middle of this zone being 0.36 miles away from the 12th St/Oakland City Center Station.

Map showing where optimum locations of a metro line and stations should go in Downtown Oakland. A distance of 0.3 to 0.5 miles is optimum in a downtown (CBD) area. Image: Urban Life Signs/Brian Stokle

(see map at beginning of post)
  • BART
    • Arrives in the East Bay in Alameda from the south. Station located along Webster St. 
    • Pass under Oakland Estuary between Alameda and Oakland.
    • Runs under Jackson St between Oakland Estuary to Grand Ave
    • Turns northwest up Harrison and 27th St to reach 26th Street
    • Shortly run west under 26th St to reach I-980.
    • Finally turns north onto existing BART line between MacArthur and 19th St Oakland.  
  • Capital Corridor/HSR 
    • The majority of the passenger rail alignment follows its exisiting path along Union Pacific tracks.
    • To reduce conflict between trains and cars/buses/bikes/pedestrians a 2nd Street Tunnel would carry passenger only trains roughly between the Port of Oakland and Brooklyn Basin.
  • Union Pacific Freight Railway
    • Freight rail service would either:
      • Continue to run on the surface along Embarcadero West through Jack London.
      • Follow through a tunnel or trench under Embarcadero West through Jack London. 
Capital Corridor Vision Plan recommended alternative for addressing capacity and safety in this dense built up corridor with significant rail traffic. Image: Capitol Corridor Vision Plan Appendices

  • BART - Transbay service from San Francisco to Alameda then Oakland
    • The Webster Alameda Station offers Alameda its first BART station and a much needed option for accessing the western half of Alameda without going through the congested Webster and Posey Tubes.
    • Jack London Square Intermodal Station is a grand junction where BART, Capitol Corridor and Amtrak train service meet for making transfers and for dramatically improving access to the Jack London and Warehouse District areas. The transfers will allow someone taking the Capitol Corridor from Fairfield to transfer here to jump on a BART train to get to San Francisco or even SFO. Other regional rail could come here such as ACE from Livermore and Tracy.

    • Lake Merritt/9th St Station would be located under Jackson St, just north of the current Lake Merritt Station between Jackson and Fallon streets. A pedestrian tunnel would connect it to the existing Lake Merritt Station to allow transfers from the Blue and Green lines to the new BART line.
    • The KONO Adams Point Station would lie under 27th St with Adams Point to the east and KONO to the west, and Oakland's northern downtown district (Kaiser Building, Pandora, etc.) within walking distance. This station, more than any of the other two would bring rail access within walking distance to many new residents and employers.
  • Capitol Corridor
    • The alignment of the Capitol Corridor service wouldn't change much apart from one critical piece: Undergrounding the service in Jack London Square following under 2nd Street. By putting passenger rail service underground, capacity for passenger service through this corridor would expand, and reduce conflicts and safety issues between trains, cars, bikes and pedestrians that the current tracks on Embarcadero West exacerbate.
    • The freight service could remain on Embarcadero West at street level as it does today, or an underground tunnel could go under Embarcadero West to remove all surface rail and its challenges from the Jack London Square area.

The Cons
  • Only offers capacity relief to the red and yellow lines.
  • Does not offer a way for standard gauge rail to cross the bay. Thus no downtown Oakland Amtrak or HSR station is offered in this option.
  • Jackson St is not a commercial or office corridor in spite of its proximity to downtown. However this could change over time.
  • Connecting to the BART line between MacArthur and KONO/Adams Point could be challenging due to the rail being hemmed in by the freeway, and the buildings located on the turn near 27th St.
The Pros
  • Relieves congestion of the current Transbay Tube on BART's Yellow and Red line. 
  • Creates a fantastic transfer center in Jack London Square at the existing Amtrak station.
  • Brings rail access to Adams Point and KONO, as well as the North Lake Downtown area.
  • Alameda gets regional rail access, reducing roadway congestion.

The two main alignments could be built at separate times (First BART, second Amtrak or visa versa). Possible phasing could also have the Oakland and Alameda tunnels built before the 2nd Transbay Crossing is built. However, this would create a stub line until the transbay service began.

In summary
Good plan but with limited success, especially for standard gauge services like Capital Corridor, Caltrain and HSR. However, the intermodal station at Jack London would become a very important hub in the regions rail network allowing folks from Sacramento to make a quick and east transfer to get to San Francisco. 


Popular Posts