31 January 2017

Hitting all the bases with Anna Madrigal's Steps

A woman is on her way to work. She gets on a train at West Portal Station in San Francisco, tagging her Clipper card. She quickly reads the latest news on her quick ride to Montgomery Station - just long enough to read the headlines and look at photos of the A's World Series victory parade from the day before.

Once off the train at Montgomery, she takes escalators deeper down below Market St to reach a new BART station that will take her to Oakland through the new second tube. On her way down she appreciates the echoing music through the hallways and puts a couple dollars in a guitarist's case. Reaching the platform, she arrives just in time as the platform doors and train doors open. She knows she's on the right because the sign is blinking purple next to the doors.

Jack London Square offices. Image: KQED
After a quiet and pleasant ride under the bay her train makes a short stop at Alameda Point Station. She's happy she'll be getting off a the next station, Jack London Station. (She'll come back through Alameda and get dinner with her friend there on her way back.) A minute later she's getting off at Jack London Station, riding the escalators to the surface. She tags her Clipper card as she exits the station and walks three blocks to her job, ready to begin her new day.

The above story is possible if, and only if, we build a second rail crossing under the bay (or over). Let's get started.

Today we look at the Anna Madrigal's Steps option that reaches both Mission Bay and the Financial and Transbay districts. This, the third of four in our series on San Francisco Transbay Alignment choices, which will be followed by a look at Oakland. Previously we have presented two options for new rail into Downtown San Francisco: the Lindsay Boxer Discovery, and Midge's Delight options with their distinctive BART lines up Fifth St and Howard St respectively plus Caltrain through Mission Bay via Third St and Townsend respectively.

Here we have the alignment that get's you nearly everywhere you want to be and where folks work or live:
  • Mission Bay
  • South SoMa/South Beach
  • Transbay District
  • Financial District
  • Union Square
It also creates great seamless connections between BART, Caltrain and Muni Metro - i.e. short transfers that prioritize you getting where you want to go quickly, comfortably, intuitively and hopefully without a headache. 

The Caltrain/HSR DTX line follows its planned path up 7th Street, Townsend Street and 2nd Street. In a second phase, a turnback loop is built to increase capacity of the Transbay Transit Center. This tees up an eventual crossing to Oakland. The BART line from Oakland would first briefly pass through Mission Bay, then follow 3rd Street in South SoMa. From 3rd & Brannan, it would shift to 2nd Street to stop at the Transbay Center and Montgomery BART. Finally it would turn west down Post to reach Geary in the Western Addition.

Looking south from Third St at the planned Mission Rock development (top), Mission Creek (center), and AT&T Park (left). The new BART line (blue) would follow Terry Francois then up Third Street. King Street crosses Third with Muni Metro service (orange). Image: Mission Rock via BCDC (pdf) and Brian Stokle (lines)
The Madrigal's Steps option would include:
  • more BART stations (3 to 4); 
  • build a somewhat longer 1.6 mile BART tunnel, compared to 1.5 miles (Lindsay Boxer), and twice as far as the 0.8 miles of Midge's Delight. 
  • Unlike the other two options, Madrigal's Steps gets folks directly to both the Financial District and Mission Bay.
  • A Caltrain loop that makes the Transbay Transit Center a through station - not a terminal station - that increases its train and passenger capacity.
Capacity difference between a TERMINAL and a THROUGH station:
The Transbay Transit Center is currently designed to open as a terminal station, that could be converted to a through station. A terminal station is literally the end of the line. This means that trains do not pass through but instead have to pull in and pull out of the station. For every one train, two movements are needed – one entering and one leaving the station. This only increases the complexity of managing the station.

Think of a driveway at a home: a circle driveway vs. a standard straight one with a garage. Imagine you're having a party and you invite lots of people over. Luckily you have a driveway that can hold 6 cars (in addition to the 2 in your garage).  Friends 1 and 2 arrive early and park in front of the garage. They want to leave early, but Friends 3 and 4, who arrived later and plan to leave late, have blocked them in. 

The only way for Friends 1 and 2 to have avoided the problem (if street parking is not an option) is for them to have backed out before Friends 3 and 4 arrived, which means Friends 3 and 4 have to wait to park in the driveway or arrive later than they wanted to.

A circle driveway would have allowed Friends 1 and 2 to arrive early and leave early. Meanwhile Friends 3 and 4 could arrive later and leave later knowing they wouldn't block Friends 1 and 2, and in fact leave a space or two for Friends 5 and 6 who want to stay the night.

Looking south on Third Street as it crosses King St. AT&T Park is on the far left corner. A station would go here in the Madrigal's Steps option. Image: Google Streetview
As noted before, the options will be names of people. In San Francisco they are names of fictitious characters from stories that took place in San Francisco. Also, the orientation of the map has east at the top, "looking" to Oakland.

(see map below)
  • BART
    • Arrives under the bay at Pier 54 running north along Terry Francois Blvd. 
    • Runs under 3rd St between Mission Creek and South Park
    • Turns slightly northeast to reach 2nd Street via Hawthorne St. 
    • Finally turns west from 2nd St to Post St 
  • Caltrain/HSR 
    • The Downtown Extension DTX follows the Pennsylvania and 7th Street alignment from Potrero Hill to SoMa.
    • Continues under Townsend St, then turns north up 2nd Street to the Transbay Center
    • Continues east out of the Center turning south to loop back to Townsend via Embarcadero. 
    • Future extension of Caltrain and HSR tracks under the bay could be added later, paralleling the 2nd BART tube's alignment or taking a separate path.
  • Muni
    • Operates largely as today
    • Central Subway extended to North Beach and later to Fisherman's Wharf
    • Optional Geary St Muni Metro could loop around Transbay Transit Center and then turn back southwest along Folsom back to the Mission. The route could be all underground or a combination of surface and underground rail.
    • Optional extension of N-Judah Mission Bay line further west to Division Street.
Anna Madrigal's Steps option. Source: Brian Stokle / Urban Life Signs

21 January 2017

Baseball access - the parking and car kind

The Oakland Athletics are considering building a new stadium in Oakland. Where it will go depends on how it is financed and how folks will get to the stadium. Let's look at access.

Sporting events are big events that draw people from an entire region. That means a new A's stadium needs to provide access for folks from Oakland, Concord, Fremont, Richmond, Livermore, Vallejo, and even San Francisco and San Jose. There are two primary ways folks get to a sport stadium: by car or by transit. Cars need parking within a short-ish walking distance, and transit needs to be a short-ish walking distance as well, but can be a bit farther - hey you're going to a great game, it's worth a nice walk.
Camden Yards stadium in Baltimore, with parking lot. Source:Google Streetview
Let's look at how several of the ballpark sites rate on access. Today we'll look at auto access.

  • Coliseum
  • Brooklyn Basin
  • Laney College Fields
  • Estuary Park
  • Howard Terminal
Parking requires either lots or fields surrounding or close to a stadium, or a series of parking garages. We'll look at both what is available today, but also what would be available in the longer term, especially considering the team will likely finance their stadium in part through developing the area surrounding the stadium.

Site acreage
Coliseum: 100+ acres without Raiders, ~40 with Raiders
Brooklyn Basin: 23 acres
Laney College Fields: 17 acres
Estuary Park: 11 acres
Howard Terminal: 50 acres

If we figure the stadium will take up about 9 acres, that leaves little room for development AND parking lots on the site itself for Laney College, Estuary Park, and Brooklyn Basin. That said, areas surrounding both Laney and Estuary could easily have parking structures added to them, especially the Laney College parking lot west of the ballpark site.

However, from a purely parking lot perspective, it's Howard Terminal and Coliseum that provide ample parking and development opportunity from an acreage point of view.

Freeway Access
The key way to get to a stadium by car for most people is by freeway. You also need to get from the freeway to the stadium via off and on ramps plus a few streets. The key piece is the freeway on/off-ramps. Let's look at how many freeway on and off ramp sets are at each site.

We'll count one ramp set as two off-ramps, one in each direction, plus two on-ramps in each direction. We'll only count ramp sets that are relatively close to the stadium site and have street access.

Coliseum: 2.0
Brooklyn Basin:
Laney College Fields: 1.5 (3.5 if you include I-580)
Estuary Park: 1.75 but could be boosted to 2.0
Howard Terminal: 3.0

The Coliseum has two full ramp sets, one at Hegenberger, the other at 66th Ave. I-580 is beyond the 2-mile radius of the stadium. The ramps and surrounding streets are designed for the high volumes of major sporting and concert events.

Brooklyn Basin is limited with its shoreline site. However, I-580 get's within the 2-mile radius of the stadium using Park Blvd and 5th Ave to access the park. Unfortunately there are few freeway ramps close to the stadium (unlike Coliseum), and some are not designed for high volume traffic, and may not be up to current interstate standards.

Embarcadero and 10th Ave onramp.
Embarcadero and 10th Ave onramp. Source: Google Streetview