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File #: 2019-6595   
Type: Consent Calendar Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 3/19/2019
Title: Recommendation to Endorse the Central Avenue Webster Street Options for Further Analysis and the Two-Way Bikeway Extension Between Paden School and McKay Avenue. (Transportation 310)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Workshop and Email Comments, 2. Exhibit 2 - Public Survey Comments, 3. Exhibit 3 - Two-Way Bikeway Extension, 4. Exhibit 4 - Intersection Photos, Plan Views and Maps

Title

 

Recommendation to Endorse the Central Avenue Webster Street Options for Further Analysis and the Two-Way Bikeway Extension Between Paden School and McKay Avenue. (Transportation 310)

Body

 

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

From: David L. Rudat, Interim City Manager

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The City Council approved the Central Avenue Safety Improvement Project in February 2016 and directed staff to work with the neighboring community to identify options for further study for the Webster Street area of the corridor.   The Transportation Commission, the community, and staff have identified four design options for this area. 

 

In 2016, the City Council approved a two-way bikeway from Alameda Point to Paden School. On January 23, 2019, the Transportation Commission approved the four draft options and an extension of the two-way bikeway between Paden School and McKay Avenue and the San Francisco Bay Trail. 

 

Staff is recommending that the City Council endorse the four options for further study and also endorse the extension of the two-way bikeway to McKay Avenue as part of the overall Central Avenue Safety Improvement Project.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The purpose of the Central Avenue project is to make Central Avenue safer for Alamedans in cars, on bikes and walking along this 1.7 mile segment of Central Avenue between Pacific Avenue/Main Street and Sherman Street/Encinal Avenue.  The study area is designated as Caltrans State Highway 61 between Webster Street and Sherman Street.  The Central Avenue study area has a disproportionate number of injuries from collisions compared to other streets in the City of Alameda (City). 

 

In 2016, the City Council approved a design plan to improve Central Avenue except for the Webster Street/Central Avenue intersection.  The approved design plan includes a reduction from 4 to 3 travel lanes with a center turn lane, bike lanes between 8th Street and the Sherman Street/Encinal Avenue intersection, a 2-way separated bikeway adjacent to 3 schools on the west end of the City and the Bay Trail, traffic signals at Third Street and Fifth Street, curb extensions, pedestrian refuge islands, rectangular rapid flashing beacons, new crosswalks and street trees/rain gardens.

 

In 2017, the City received confirmation of funding from the Caltrans Active Transportation Program for $7.3 million and from Alameda County Transportation Commission’s federal/state funding for $3.5 million, which totals $10.8 million in federal and state grant monies for construction.  When factoring in the local match requirements, the total monies available for construction total over $12 million.  In 2018, the City Council approved funding for a Project Initiation Document (PID), which is a required next step for projects on a state highway.  The purpose of the Caltrans-required PID is to define the project’s scope, cost and schedule and to obtain conceptual approval by Caltrans before proceeding to further design, environmental review and construction. 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Extension of the Two-way Bikeway between Paden School and McKay Avenue

The extension of the two-way bikeway between Paden School and McKay Avenue would provide a more protected bikeway to cover the entire San Francisco Bay Trail between Boat Ramp Road and McKay Avenue, and it also would cover a larger Paden School enrollment area.  The 2016 approved concept has a two-way bikeway between Pacific Avenue/Main Street and terminating at Paden School.  The recommendation is to extend the two-way bikeway east from Paden School to McKay Avenue, a total of 1,650 feet or 1/3 mile. 

 

This two-way bikeway extension would allow more students to travel to/from the local schools in a physically separated bikeway, and would allow bicyclists to travel between the South Shore area and the west end without interacting with vehicles except at a few driveways on the south side of Central Avenue.  The conflicts between people bicycling and driveways are less frequent in number and are at reduced speeds compared to the conflicts with the current bike lane concept.  Due to these reduced conflicts with the recommended two-way bikeway, staff expects there will be a shift to increased bicycle usage similar to Lincoln Middle School, which already has a physically separated bikeway adjacent to its school and has more than 30% of its students bicycling to/from school compared to Wood Middle School at 15%.

 

A two-way bikeway is anticipated to reduce the severity of collisions between vehicles and pedestrians/bicyclists due to the lower vehicle speeds when crossing the bikeway into driveways as compared to the vehicle speeds on Central Avenue when travelling along the corridor and adjacent to a Class II bicycle lane.  A report in 2011 by the AAA Foundation titled Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death illustrates the correlation between vehicle speeds and the risks of death and severe injury in collisions between vehicles and pedestrians/bicyclists.  The study shows the risk of severe injury to pedestrians/bicyclists to be 50% when vehicles are moving at 31 miles per hour (mph), but only 10% when vehicles are moving at 16 mph.  The data supporting the study indicates a risk of death of 1-2% for pedestrians/bicyclists in collisions with vehicles moving between 5 and 10 mph, which is the anticipated speed of a vehicle entering or exiting a driveway. The risk of death is 12%, roughly 8 times higher, for pedestrians/bicyclists in collisions with vehicles moving 25 mph, which is the posted speed limit of Central Avenue. The risk of death is 20-26%, roughly 15 times higher, for pedestrians/bicyclists in collisions with vehicles moving between 30-33 mph, which are the current average traffic speeds along the corridor. 

 

Of 396 respondents to an online survey, 69% wanted a more protected two-way bikeway; 4% were unsure and needed more information and analysis, and 27% did not want to extend the two-way bikeway.

 

Study Options for the Webster Street/Central Avenue Intersection

City staff and the consultant team are recommending moving forward with studying four different options for the Webster Street/Central Avenue intersection.  The study of the four options will include: 

                     Travel delay including a visual simulation and any impacts to views from side streets;

                     Time savings with signal timing improvements;

                     Safety of all travel modes including refined geometric analysis based on a topographic survey, evacuation plans and the consideration of vertical speed control elements such as speed cushions with wheel cutouts for emergency vehicles and buses;

                     Parking supply using a topographic survey and including improved loading zones, accessible parking and intersection visibility best practices;

                     Site-specific accommodations such as at Golden House Adult Development Center for accessibility; and

                     Environmental impacts.

 

The four options are as follows and are shown in Exhibit 4:

 

1.                     Sharrows and Traffic Calming Option (Four Lanes Remain)

This option would include “sharrow” markings, which are bicycle stencils in the motor vehicle travel lane to alert drivers of bicyclists.  This option is preferred by the West Alameda Business Association and includes:

 

                     Continue the existing conditions with two motor vehicle travel lanes in each direction.

                     Bicyclists continue to ride in the travel lanes with vehicular traffic.

                     Pedestrian crossings along Central Avenue remain as currently configured.

                     Left turns continue to be made from a general travel lane as opposed to a center turn lane.

                     Parking remains on both sides of the street.

 

2.                     Sharrows and Bike Lane Option (Four Lanes East/Three Lanes West)

This option includes:

                     The four vehicular lanes would remain that are east of Webster Street by Croll’s and O’Reilly’s where the vehicular traffic is the heaviest.

                     Class II bicycle lanes that transition to bicyclists sharing the travel lane with vehicular traffic to the east of Webster Street.  Instead of bike lanes, this section would include “sharrow” markings to alert drivers of bicyclists in the travel lane.

                     Change to three vehicular lanes and bike lanes west of Webster Street by the liquor store and the Neptune Plaza shopping center.

                     Modify the traffic signal at the intersection of Central Avenue and Webster Street.

                     Add curb extensions, crosswalk enhancements and bus stop improvements.

                     Parking remains on both sides of the street.

                     Add accessible parking spaces to ensure Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.

 

3.                     Continuous Bike Lane Option (Three Lanes)

This option includes:

                     Class II bicycle lanes constructed in both directions on Central Avenue between McKay Avenue and Eighth Street, which would remove one travel lane, resulting in one travel lane in each direction and a center turn lane.

                     Modify the traffic signal at the intersection of Central Avenue and Webster Street.

                     Add curb extensions, crosswalk enhancements and bus stop improvements.

                     Parking remains on both sides of the street.  There is potential to restrict parking during peak travel times adjacent to Croll’s to allow for a dedicated right turn lane from Central Avenue to Webster Street.

                     Add accessible parking spaces to ensure ADA compliance.

 

4.                     Two-way Bikeway Option (Three Lanes)

This option is preferred by City staff, the consultant team, and Bike Walk Alameda based on the safety and feasibility knowledge to date.  It includes:

                     A separated, protected Class IV two-way bikeway constructed on the south side of Central Avenue from McKay Avenue to Eighth Street, which would be out of the way of the heavy turning movements adjacent to Croll’s.

                     Modify the traffic signal at the intersection of Central Avenue and Webster Street.

                     Add curb extensions, crosswalk enhancements and bus stop improvements.

                     Parking remains on both sides of the street.  There is potential to restrict parking during peak travel times adjacent to Croll’s to allow for a dedicated right turn lane from Central Avenue to Webster Street.

                     Add accessible parking spaces to ensure ADA compliance.

 

City staff and the consultant team will return to the Transportation Commission and City Council in mid- to late 2019 with the Webster Street/Central Avenue area study option results and a recommended preferred option for approval.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

There is no impact to the General Fund.  The total expenditure for the PID effort is not to exceed $557,000, which is in the City’s Capital Improvement Program Budget Project 91815 for Fiscal Years 2017-19 and is funded by Measure B/BB for $407,000 and Transportation Development Impact Fees for $150,000.  More monies will be needed to cover the consultant and Caltrans review costs for subsequent project approval, environmental review and design phases that are needed for construction.  City staff is updating its cost estimates to include the extra level of effort required during the pre-construction phases for projects on the State Highway System.

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

This Central Avenue concept included an extensive community based planning process that began in 1991 with the City’s General Plan and continued with the concept phase from 2014 to 2016, the Citywide Capital Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2017 to 2019 and the current PID phase.  The Central Avenue concept also is consistent with the following City documents:

                     The City Council approved the City Design Element of the General Plan (1991) with policies maximizing access to the shoreline, which includes Central Avenue to “enhance the meeting of land and water.”

                     The City Council approved the Transportation Element of the General Plan (2009), which lists Central Avenue as a transit priority street, a bicycle priority street and a truck route, in school and recreation zones and as an island arterial, and lists other priorities that are addressed in the Central Avenue concept such as multimodal, safety and environmental improvements and considering needs for individuals with disabilities. 

                     The City Council approved the Pedestrian Plan (2009) that prioritized the Central Avenue improvements as medium-priority pedestrian projects.

                     The City Council approved the Bicycle Plan Update (2010) that prioritized the Central Avenue bikeway project as a high-priority project.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

This action is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines section 15061(b)(3).

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Endorse the four Central Avenue Webster Street options for further analysis and the two-way bikeway extension between Paden School and McKay Avenue.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Acting Planning, Building and Transportation Director

 

By,

Gail Payne, Senior Transportation Coordinator

 

Financial Impact section reviewed,

Elena Adair, Finance Director

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Workshop and Email Comments

2.                     Public Survey Comments

3.                     Two-Way Bikeway Extension

4.                     Intersection Photos, Plan Views and Maps