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File #: 2019-7116   
Type: New Business
Body: Transportation Commission
On agenda: 7/24/2019
Title: Approve the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project Recommendations (Andrew Thomas, Director of the Planning, Building and Transportation Department) Outcome: Commission to provide recommendations
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Existing Conditions Memo, 2. Exhibit 2 - Workshop and Survey Results, 3. Exhibit 3 - Presentation, 4. Exhibit 4 - Design Concept: Bike Lane Option (15% Design Drawings), 5. Exhibit 5 - Design Concept: Two-way Bikeway Preferred Option (15% Design Drawings), 6. Exhibit 6 - Design Concept: Hybrid Bike Lane/Two-way Bikeway Option (15% Design Drawings), 7. Correspondence

Title

 

Approve the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project Recommendations (Andrew Thomas, Director of the Planning, Building and Transportation Department)

Outcome: Commission to provide recommendations

Body

 

To:                                          Honorable Chair and Members of the Transportation Commission

From:                                          Gail Payne, Senior Transportation Coordinator

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The purpose of this agenda item is to consider the City’s staff/consultant team’s recommended design concept for the improvement of bicycle, pedestrian and automobile/truck safety on Clement Avenue from Grand Street to Broadway, and to provide the Transportation Commission with the opportunity to make a recommendation on the design concept to City Council.  The Transportation Commission may recommend that the City Council approve staff’s recommended concept, or the Commission may recommend an alternate design concept. 

 

Staff will present the staff’s recommended design concept and the Transportation Commission’s recommended concept to the City Council in September.  If the City Council approves a final design concept in September, the consultant will complete the final design and construction plans in the fall and construction may begin in mid-2020.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The City has identified Clement Avenue between Grand Street and Broadway, which is 1.2 miles in length, as a high priority for safety improvements.  Clement Avenue is 48 to 50-foot wide curb to curb, and has two travel lanes separated in the center by a single set of paved over railroad tracks, on-street parking along both sides of the street and no bike lanes. Excessive speeds, challenging crossings for pedestrians and a lack of bicycle facilities cause safety concerns along this segment of Clement Avenue.  Exhibit 1 provides more information on existing conditions.

 

Clement Avenue is part of the Cross Alameda Trail and is a potential future section of the San Francisco Bay Trail due to the U.S. Navy training facility that blocks existing and future access to the waterfront.  The Cross Alameda Trail is being constructed, and ultimately will extend for four miles between the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point and the Miller Sweeney Bridge (Fruitvale Bridge).  In 2018, work was completed on the segment through Jean Sweeney Open Space Park between Constitution Way and Sherman Street, and work began on the Alameda Point segment between the Seaplane Lagoon and Main Street.  Currently, construction is underway on the portion between Seaplane Lagoon and Constitution Way with an expected completion date of late October 2019.

 

Clement Avenue serves the Northern Waterfront Priority Development Area, which is experiencing major redevelopment from industrial and warehousing uses to more residential, mixed uses with significant areas of public waterfront open space.  In 2018, the City Council approved the Alameda Marina development, which will include about 700 housing units and over 100,000 square feet of office/commercial, a public park and a marina between Alameda Marina Drive and Willow Street.  Demolition is expected to begin later this year with full build-out expected in about five years.  Other developments in the Northern Waterfront area include: 1) the recently completed Mulberry at 2100 Clement Avenue with 52 residential units, 2) the Del Monte warehouse development, which is currently applying for building permits to construct 362 residential units, 30,000 square feet of office/commercial and the Clement Avenue extension and the Cross Alameda Trail from Jean Sweeney Park to Entrance Road, and 3) the Encinal Terminals, which was approved for 589 residential units, 50,000 square feet of commercial space and 3 acres of public waterfront parks.

 

In 2017, the City received over $5,000,000 federal grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC) to plan, design and construct this Cross Alameda Trail segment between Grand Street and Broadway.  The Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project removes the railroad tracks, maintains the designated truck route and adds stop signs, a bikeway, curb extensions, crosswalks, sidewalk/curb ramp improvements and street trees.

 

The goals of the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project include to:

                     Provide safer bicycling and walking

                     Reduce speeding on Clement Avenue

                     Complete the Cross Alameda Trail

                     Improve public access to the estuary/bay

                     Add to the urban forest

                     Revitalize the waterfront and support public waterfront access

                     Maintain truck access along the corridor

                     Remove abandoned railroad tracks, and

                     Minimize parking loss

 

In 2018, the City Council approved the Transportation Choices Plan, which lists Clement Avenue as a Vision Zero corridor with a goal to reduce citywide traffic deaths and severe injuries to zero.  On December 18, 2018, the City Council approved an 18 month contract with CDM Smith in an amount not to exceed $600,301 for design services for the Clement Avenue Safety Improvements Project.  

 

In May and June 2019, City staff and the consultant team met with an Advisory Group of key stakeholders, held a community workshop, and conducted a community survey.  Exhibit 2 shows the results of the workshop and survey effort.

 

The project webpage is www.alamedaca.gov/clement <http://www.alamedaca.gov/clement>

 

DISCUSSION

 

The staff/consultant team considered four different design concepts for the Clement Avenue portion of the Cross Alameda Trail (Exhibit 3):

 

                     Option 1: Maintain Existing Conditions

                     Option 2: Addition of Striped Bike Lanes, (Exhibit 4)

                     Option 3. Addition of a Protected Two Way Bikeway, and (Exhibit 5)

                     Option 4. Protected Bikeway from Grand Street to Walnut Street followed by bike lanes from Walnut Street to Broadway. (Exhibit 6)

 

The consultant team developed the conceptual designs for Option 2, Option 3, and Option 4, which allowed the staff/consultant team and the public to consider the differences between the four options.

 

When considering the four options, staff considered a variety of issues, including safety, truck access, parking supply, pedestrian access, and the need for bicycle facilities on the Cross Alameda Trail. Nevertheless, when balancing potentially conflicting needs, staff identified public safety as the most important consideration.  The Safety Element of the General Plan states:

“Ensure that the City prioritizes public safety through the implementation of a Vision Zero policy to reduce annual pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries resulting from collisions with faster moving vehicles and unsafe street design.”

Based upon these criteria, staff is recommending that the City Council endorse Option 3 as the preferred option for the improvement of this portion of the Cross Alameda Trail. The following discussion describes staff’s rationale for recommending Option 3, which is the two-way bikeway.

 

Safety Improvements

As an important segment of the Cross Alameda Trail and the primary arterial serving the new developments and major new waterfront parks along the Northern Waterfront, staff expects a significant increase in pedestrians and bicyclists on Clement Avenue.  Currently, Clement Avenue has no bicycle lanes or facilities and the sidewalks are substandard.  

 

Pedestrian Safety: Compared to the existing substandard pedestrian facilities on Clement Avenue, all three options (Options 2, 3, and 4) represent a significant improvement over the existing substandard conditions.  All three options widen substandard sidewalks and add marked crosswalks, curb extensions, pedestrian refuge islands and curb ramp improvements.  These sidewalk improvements will provide a continuous path of travel along Clement Avenue for people in wheelchairs, and will install sidewalk or a protected walkway where none currently exists.  The Alameda Marina development will widen the sidewalks adjacent to its development on the north side of the street, and will underground the local electrical distribution lines adjacent to the development, which will reduce the number of utility poles and will eliminate the lower level power lines.  The high voltage transmission lines and the associated poles will remain.

 

Multimodal Safety: All three options improve multimodal safety at intersections.  Consistent with recent Council policy and national and state intersection visibility standards, an estimated ten on-street parking spaces will be removed adjacent to existing intersections along Clement Avenue in all options to improve visibility.  Curb extensions also will help improve visibility between people walking, bicycling and driving as will the all-way stop additions.  All-way stops would be introduced at the Grand Street, Broadway, Schiller Street, and Stanford Street intersections in all four options.

 

City staff and the consultant team considered not removing the railroad tracks and ties; however, the railroad tracks would have made the crown of the street too severe and could cause potential long-term pavement quality issues in the street. Removing the tracks will allow the full use of the street right-of-way.  City staff and the consultant team recommend removing the railroad tracks and ties and disposing these materials appropriately if the tracks and ties are determined to be sources of hazardous material contamination.  The Alameda Marina project will remove the railroad tracks and ties between Alameda Marina Drive and Willow Street as part of their demolition, which is expected to occur in late 2019/early 2020.

 

Option 3 - the two-way bikeway - has the greatest potential to reduce the average speed on Clement Avenue to the posted 25 miles per hour, as the result of the narrower effective roadway width.  When pedestrians or bicyclists are involved in a collision with an automobile, the speed of the vehicle has a strong correlation to the severity of the injury to the pedestrian or bicyclist.  Option 3 has the narrowest effective roadway width.  Therefore, Option 3 provides the shortest pedestrian crossing distances, which reduces the risk of pedestrian/automobile collisions.

 

Bicycle Safety.  The staff/consultant team finds that Option 3, with the protected two-way bikeway, is the safest option for bicyclists.  The option places the bikeway on the north side of the street, which is a safer location than the south side since the south side has more curb cuts and conflict points. 

 

Compared to the other options, the two-way bikeway has the following safety benefits that are not found in the other options:

 

                     A protected two way bike facility is safer than a striped bike lane for bicyclists. It provides a physical barrier between bicyclists and automobiles.  A bike lane provides only a painted stripe between the vehicle and the bicyclist.  The protected bikeway also minimizes the risk of “dooring” that occurs in bike lanes when a person in a parked car opens its door into the bike lane.

                     The Cross Alameda Trail is being constructed as a two way protected bikeway from the Seaplane Lagoon to Grand Street.  Continuing the facility from Grand Street to Broadway eliminates the need to transition bicyclists from a protected two-way bikeway to striped bike lanes on either side of the street.  Eliminating the need for a transition reduces the risk of potential conflicts between automobiles and bicyclists at the transition point.

                     The two-way bikeway has the greatest potential to reduce the average speed on Clement Avenue to the posted 25 miles per hour, as the result of the narrower effective roadway width.  When bicyclists and automobiles collide, the speed of the vehicle has a strong correlation to the severity of the injury to the bicyclist. 

                     With its reduced effective roadway width, Option 3 provides the shortest pedestrian crossing distances, which reduces the risk of pedestrian/automobile collisions.

                     The two-way bikeway provides the safest bicycle crossing of the Park Street corridor of all four options.  The bike lane and hybrid options provide limited safety improvements for bicyclists crossing at the busy intersection of Park Street and Clement Avenue since these options lack a dedicated bikeway in the eastbound direction.  

 

Park Street/Clement Avenue Intersection Operations 

The Park Street/Clement Avenue intersection serves as an important gateway in and out of the City.  The gateway is constrained by the intersection operations on the Oakland side of the Park Street Bridge, congestion on the I-880 main line, and by the four travel lanes on the bridge and on Park Street in Alameda.  When considering how to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety on Clement Avenue at Park Street, the staff and consultant team carefully considered the impact on the operation of the Park Street/Clement Avenue intersection.

 

Option #3 with the protected two-way bikeway requires a modification to the signal timing at Park Street to provide a phase for bicyclists to cross Park Street.  During this phase, no cars would be allowed to cross the bikeway to access the bridge.  At Park Street, the signal cycle would likely be increased from the existing 60 seconds to either 90 seconds or 120 seconds.  Separately, the Park Street Arterial Management project is nearing completion and will seek to improve traffic flow along the entire Park Street corridor.  The addition of a bicycle phase at Clement Avenue is not expected to increase travel times off of Alameda due to the existing traffic capacity limitations across the Park Street bridge in Oakland.

 

Options #2, 3, and 4 would not include any changes to the signal timing or operations at the intersection, except for those needed for the Park Street signalization project.

 

The staff/consultant team is also recommending the addition of a right-turn pocket going westbound so as to better accommodate the high volumes of motor vehicles headed off island in the mornings in all options.  For the two-way bikeway concept (Option #3), the additional right-turn pocket requires the elimination of parking on the south side of the street whereas some parking is maintained at this location for the bike lane (Option 2) and hybrid options (Option 4).  Table 1 shows the differences in seconds of delay if the turn lane is not provided in Option #3. 

 

Table 1: Two-way Bikeway Signal Operations Comparison at the Clement Avenue and Park Street Intersection

 

 

Baseline (No Change to Existing Configuration)

Project: WB Right Turn Pocket

Project: No WB Right Turn Pocket

Cycle Length (seconds)

60

90

120

90

120

Intersection Delay (seconds)

48.5

48.4

49.6

106.4

51.8

Level of Service (LOS)

D

D

D

F

D

95th Percentile Queue Length (feet)

251 EB 324 WB

356 EB 318 WB

456 EB 319 WB

268 EB 438 WB

411 EB 483 WB

WB: westbound; EB: eastbound

 

At Grand Street, the Northern Waterfront EIR anticipates the need for a traffic signal at Grand Street and Clement Avenue with full build out of the area.  The Clement Avenue safety project would not be constructing this signal.  All four options would benefit from this future traffic signal.

 

Tree Plantings

All three options will include opportunities for the addition of street trees on the corridor. Street tree plantings implement the City’s Master Street Tree Plan (2009) and the Climate Action Plan. Additional trees also improve the pedestrian experience and the overall appearance of the street.  The tree species that are recommended in the City’s Master Street Tree Plan for Clement Avenue are the Brisbane box (Tristannia conferta) and the London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia columbia and yarwood).  City staff did receive a community member request to plant the columbia version of the London plane tree.

 

Since the sidewalks along Clement Avenue are only five feet wide, staff/consultant team will consider creative ways to add trees, such as in the existing asphalt parking lane between parking spaces and in the buffer between the bikeway and the motor vehicle travel lane. 

 

Of all the options, Option 3 with the protected bikeway provides the best opportunities to increase the tree canopy on Clement Avenue due to the buffer between the bikeway and the motor vehicle lane.

 

Truck Access and Loading

Clement Avenue is a designated truck route.  Out of the 8,300 vehicles per day that travel on Clement Avenue, between 83 and 133 (about 1 to 2 percent) are tractor-trailer or semi-trucks.  These larger trucks have a maximum width of 8.5 feet, which does not include mirrors, and the length of these larger trucks is typically 48 to 53 feet.  Staff/consultant team is recommending 11 foot travel lanes in all options to accommodate trucks of 8.5 feet in width.  

 

The Police Department issues permits for about 12 wide loads per year on Clement Avenue.  These wide loads are between 11 and 14 feet wide, and tend to be scheduled during off-peak times.  For the first six months in 2019, the City received four wide loads along Clement Avenue.  In general, the wider loads in Alameda, which include construction cranes and oversized earth moving equipment, are directed to travel down the wider streets in Alameda, and typically take State Route 61 or Otis Drive.

 

Several businesses along Clement Avenue have advocated for Option 2 (striped bike lanes instead of a protected bikeway).  The businesses that rely on large trucks for delivery prefer the striped bike lanes because the trucks can double park in the bike lane for loading and unloading and can use the bike lane as additional roadway space, as needed. 

 

Staff appreciates the needs of the local businesses, but staff is uncomfortable with the argument that the City should design a bicycle facility that allows large trucks to merge into the bike lane or that requires people on bicycles to swing out of the bike lane and into the motor vehicle travel lane to avoid a truck that has double parked in the bike lane.  Staff is also uncomfortable with the idea that the City should design a bicycle facility that allows trucks to merge into the bike lane, as needed and at any time.  For these reasons, staff believes that the protected bike lane is safer than the striped bike lanes.

 

Regarding truck loading zones, staff agrees that whichever concept is approved must provide for adequate loading zones to support local businesses.  The design of these loading zones will need to be done carefully in close coordination with existing businesses on each block that needs a loading zone.  This work will also require a detail balancing of the needs for on-street parking and the needs for on-street loading zones. 

 

On Street Public Parking Supply

Currently, a total of about 300 parking spaces exist along the Clement Avenue corridor between Grand Street and Broadway at a parking occupancy of 67 percent.  All the options:

 

                     Remove approximately 10 spaces to provide adequate visibility at existing intersections consistent with Council policy and national and state standards for intersection safety.

                     Remove approximately 55 spaces to enable widening of existing sidewalks to meet Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements.

 

Option 2 would not remove any additional spaces to accommodate striped bike lanes, which would increase the parking occupancy to 82 percent. 

 

Option 3 removes an additional 20 spaces to accommodate the protected two-way bikeway and provide maximum visibility at driveway crossings, which would increase the parking occupancy to 90 percent.

 

Option 4 (the hybrid) removes an additional 10 spaces to accommodate the protected two-way bikeway between Walnut Street and Broadway, which would increase the parking occupancy to 86 percent.

 

Currently, there are no disabled parking spaces along Clement Avenue.  The design concept recommends to add disabled parking spaces on Clement Avenue or on minor streets adjacent to Clement Avenue so as to comply with U.S. Access Board guidelines for on-street disabled parking. 

 

Conclusions

In conclusion, staff is recommending that the City Council endorse Option 3 with its protected bikeway as the preferred option.  Staff believes that the option will provide the safest facility for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.  As the safest option, staff also believes that Option 3 will be the most effective at supporting bicycling and walking as a viable and attractive mode of transportation, thus supporting the City’s adopted goals to increase bicycling, reduce vehicle use, greenhouse gas emissions, and local traffic congestion.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The City’s 2017-2019 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) included the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement project to fund planning, outreach and design totaling $641,000 with $567,000 coming from the grant and $74,000 coming from the City’s Transportation Development Improvement Fund.  The final design and construction phase of the project is budgeted in the current biennial budget cycle for 2019-2021 totaling $5.4 million with about $400,000 to complete the final design and the remaining $5 million to construct the project.

 

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

The Clement Avenue project is consistent with the following City documents and policies:

                     The Safety and Noise Element of the General Plan states: “Ensure that the City prioritize public safety through the implementation of a Vision Zero policy to reduce annual pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries resulting from collisions with faster moving vehicles and unsafe street design.”

                     The Transportation Element of the General Plan lists Clement Avenue as a transit priority street, a bicycle priority street and a truck route, and lists other priorities that are addressed in the Clement Avenue concept such as multimodal, safety and environmental improvements and considering needs for individuals with disabilities. 

                     The City’s Pedestrian Plan identifies the Clement Avenue improvements as a medium-priority project.

                     The City’s Bicycle Plan identifies the Clement Avenue bikeway as a high-priority project.

                     The City’s Transportation Choices Plan lists the Clement Avenue project as a Vision Zero Safety Improvements and Traffic Calming priority.

                     The City’s declared climate emergency in that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Alameda expected to amount to 70 percent by 2020 and a mode shift to bicycling and walking from motor vehicles would help reduce greenhouse emissions. 

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

The CDM Smith consultant team is in the process of drafting the environmental documentation to be in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).  Caltrans and City approval of the environmental document is required before proceeding to the final design phase of the project.  The environmental document is expected to be a categorical exclusion for NEPA and a categorical exemption for CEQA.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Endorse Option #3, the Two-way Bikeway, as the Preferred Design Concept for the Clement Avenue Safety Improvement Project

 

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Planning, Building and Transportation Director

 

By,

Gail Payne, Senior Transportation Coordinator

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Existing Conditions Memo

2.                     Workshop and Survey Results

3.                     Presentation

4.                     Design Concept: Bike Lane Option (15% Design Drawings)

5.                     Design Concept: Two-way Bikeway Preferred Option (15% Design Drawings)

6.                     Design Concept: Hybrid Bike Lane/Two-way Bikeway Option (15% Design Drawings)