UPDATED There will be cars
Updated 8:29 p.m. Wednesday, September 16
City officials have finally released a long-awaited study on the potential traffic impacts of SunCal’s proposed Alameda Point development. Their shocking conclusion? It will generate more traffic than an earlier proposal that included far fewer homes.
The report, which was authored by city staff with an assist from two consultants, showed that even the current general plan zoning for the Point, which allows for 2,000 homes and 7,895 jobs, would increase commute times and would also increase the traffic volumes at Island gateways and key intersections beyond their capacity. SunCal’s plan, which includes 4,841 homes and about 9,000 jobs, would exaggerate these effects.
For example, the peak AM commute from Alameda Point to Interstate 880 via the Posey Tube would increase from the current 6.5 minutes to 16 minutes if the development allowed under the general plan were built. Under SunCal’s plan, the commute could be anywhere between 20.4 minutes and 22 minutes, depending on whether measures to increase transit use were enacted.
The report says the traffic impacts would be distributed across the Island because drivers who see backups at the Posey Tube will head elsewhere to escape the traffic.
Waits at the intersection of Tilden, Blanding and Fernside would see the biggest increase in waits of the intersections studied, from 15.1 seconds now to 189.6 seconds if the Point were developed according to the general plan, 219.9 seconds with SunCal’s plan plus transit improvements and 236 seconds for SunCal’s plan without them. Waits at Park and Clement and Park and Blanding would also increase dramatically under all development scenarios studied.
Overall, the report estimates that the SunCal project, without any traffic mitigations, would generate close to 74,500 trips a day, compared to 61,500 with the listed mitigations and about 49,500 for what’s allowed in the city’s general plan.
The report’s authors said the trip estimates in the plan were conservative (meaning high) because they are not sure which of the traffic-blunting measures would be implemented if the project were built. And the report’s authors said it was not clear if the initiative, as written, would provide enough money to put everything in place. But they said the traffic could be reduced if additional mitigations were put in place.
The measures the report’s authors used for their models were a shuttle and bus rapid transit, an “Eco Pass” that would provide unlimited access to buses and shuttles to BART, and expanded ferry service, as well as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, a transit hub, a transportation coordinator who would help residents and commuters plan car-free trips and limits on parking.
The report analyzed traffic impacts on nine major intersections and five Island gateways – the Posey and Webster tubes and the Fruitvale, High Street and Park Street bridges.
Interestingly, the report says that the roads, as designed in SunCal’s plan, are not wide enough to meet city standards. And the report’s authors said the narrowness of the roads could discourage cyclists and motorcyclists (and may be too small for emergency vehicles and other large vehicles, like garbage trucks, to navigate without crossing the medians).
It also said that a landscaped multi-modal corridor for different types of transit and pedestrians along Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway that was listed in the general plan would be eliminated by SunCal’s initiative.
SunCal rep Joe Aguirre said the company is committed to coming up with a plan that effectively manages the traffic the project would create. He said the plan is designed to allow planners to come up with the best mix of traffic-reducing strategies for each phase of the development and that they’ll continue to work with the city to refine the details.
“This initiative will provide a healthy mix of jobs and housing to minimize travel and increase public transportation options to ensure that individuals going to and from Alameda Point will have access to ample public transit,”Aguirre wrote in response to an e-mailed request for comment.
An earlier report on other potential impacts of the proposed initiative was released in May. The reports were requested by the City Council so they could get a better handle on the impacts of SunCal’s plan.