Oakland: BART east & west - Cap north & south

In America's streetgrid pattern of cities, our subway and metro systems tend follow the streets, whether under, over or sometimes in the streets. Last time we looked at future rail in Oakland, including a second transbay crossing, with a north-south alignment through downtown along Jackson Street. This time we turn the compass east-west. Will the alignment prove more fortuitous, of equal measure or weaker than the north-south.... nobody knows.

Let's find out. First, an announcement from honesty and full disclosure.

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 and a way to find out what could make the most practical and implementable rail system for Downtown Oakland and the region.

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

(see map at beginning of post)
  • BART - the Eastlake 14th St Tunnel
    • Coming from the south and the east, a new BART line splits off near 14th Ave from the current A-line which the Green, Blue and Orange lines currently run on. 
    • The tunnel would go under International Boulevard, but could also go under 12th St or 15th St if deemed a better fit. 
    • After briefly passing under Lake Merritt, the tunnel follows its primary 14th St path 
    • The tunnel would pass 4 levels deep under BART's Broadway tunnel and the 12th St station, as well as under the current I-980, whether or not it became transformed into its own transit tunnel and boulevard. 
    • After a few bends in West Oakland, still under 14th St, the alignment would leave Oakland under the Port of Oakland with the option to pass to the north or south of the Bay Bridge
    • The tunnel would pass under the first Transbay Tube at some point between Oakland and the west span of the Bay Bridge
  • BART - MacArthur - 14th St link (optional; not shown above - see below)
    • For BART's lines to Berkeley and Contra Costa County a connecting tunnel could link to the 14th Street Tunnel by splitting off near Grand Ave just before the current tracks enter the Broadway Tunnel.
    • The tunnel would follow Castro or Martin Luther King Jr. Way then turn west to join the 14th Street Tunnel. 
  • Capital Corridor/HSR - the San Pablo Trotting Tunnel
    • Regional, intercity, HSR and any other electric rail service from north of Oakland would transfer into a new tunnel that passes under the East Bay Bridge Shopping Center near 40th St where the current Toys R' Us and Home Depot
    • Shifts to pass under San Pablo Avenue going south into Oakland
    • Turns south at Brush Street to run parallel to I-980
    • After passing under Howard Terminal and the Oakland Estuary the tunnel would pass under Alameda, eventually turning west to San Francisco
  • Capital Corridor - the 2nd Street Passenger Tunnel
    • Any non-electric passenger rail service would follow the current Union Pacific railway tracks between the Port of Oakland and West Oakland.
    • All passenger rail service is currently diesel. However, if the Capital Corridor and San Joaquin were converted to electric, then only the interstate Amtrak lines (Pacific Starlight and California Zephyr) would use this alignment. 
    • 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. 

  • BART - Transbay service from Oakland to San Francisco
    • Eastlake Franklin Station

    • Library Station on 14th Street in front of Oakland Public Library

    • 12th Street/Oakland - renamed 14th Street Metro Center Station at City Hall

    • 14th Street Central Station (aka Transcontinental Station)

  • BART - infill station(s)
    • Brush London Intermodal at 5th St & Brush St

  • Capitol Corridor
    • 40th Street / East Bay Bridge
    • 14th Street Central Station
    • Brush London Intermodal at Brush Street & 2nd St

The Cons
  • Primarily offers capacity relief to the green and/or blue lines.
  • Requires a reconfiguring or decommissioning of part of the I-980 freeway.
  • The Eastlake Franklin station could be better placed, rather to a Eastlake Clinton Station closer to the shopping district, likely near 5th Avenue instead of 10th Ave. In this case, the station name could be made the Eastlake Clinton Station.
  • Building a new station in the center of Downtown Oakland beside Oakland City Hall may prove challenging and disruption at depths of up to 100' deep.
The Pros
  • Relieves congestion of the current Transbay Tube on BART's Blue and/or Green lines and possibly the Red or Yellow line. 
  • Creates a fantastic transfer center in 14th Street and Broadway. This "Metro Center" style station would provide direct transfers between most of BART's lines.
  • Brings rail access to the Eastlake neighborhood, the most dense neighborhood without a BART station in the East Bay.
  • Intermodal train station offering transfers between Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin lines, along with potential HSR and Caltrain lines, to the BART system.

Phasing of this grand plan of BART and regional rail service means that certain parts could be built sooner than others while still be functional, and not needing to find so much funding all at once to build.

Likewise, if only the BART segments were built, but the San Pablo/Brush tunnel for HSR/Cap Corridor were not built - that would be ok.

The BART line could be phased in a number of ways:
  • As one complete line
  • In 2-3 phases with the first phase having the San Francisco line end at 14th St. The second and third phase would connect the line to Eastlake and the A-Line.
  • A separate alternative would have the 14th St tunnel operate standard gauge rail cars rather than BART gauge rail cars. 
    • A new line could continue east under Lake Merritt and on to the MacArthur Blvd corridor. 
    • The C-line up to Berkeley, El Cerrito and Richmond could be converted to standard gauge. It's the shortest line and would allow....

First Phase A

Second Phase B
Third Phase C

In summary
Good plan with many phasable options especially for BART lines. The intermodal station at 14th St Central Station 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. 


  1. Good! Might be interesting to calculate how much capital UP would need to receive to enter into the required property transactions and capital improvements.


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