On the Street

By Jerry Barclay

Re-imagining the intersection of Grand, Lake Park, and Santa Clara Avenues might be a transportation engineer’s dream assignment (or major headache).  Anchored by the Grand Lake Theater and Splash Pad Park on one side with the freeway entrance and AIMS College Prep School on the other, it’s a complex community hub of pedestrians, bicycles, cars, trucks, and buses all navigating in different directions at various speeds.  Add in recent late-night illegal side-shows and easy freeway access, an escape route for criminal activity, and it’s a nightmare for neighbors and local businesses.  The intersection is now part of a huge planning process that may reshape traffic patterns for years to come.  Assignments have been made and engineers are working on it.

This is the first of a series of articles I will be writing about two significant projects.  One belongs to Caltrans and the other to the City of Oakland’s Department of Transportation (OakDOT).  My goal is pretty simple.  I want the Grand Lake neighborhood to benefit from the best possible outcome.  I hope to increase neighborhood awareness and participation to achieve that.

A brief description of these projects is in order. 

First, due to seismic concerns, Caltrans will be removing the existing pedestrian overcrossing that spans 580.  The removal forces Caltrans to mitigate the impact by making appropriate improvements at street level to help people get from one side of the freeway to the other as safely as possible.  This offers many possibilities for enhancing the environment and user experience. Use this link to view the Caltrans project study report. 

Second, OakDOT is planning a major modification to Grand Avenue from Broadway to Elwood.  Its goal is to improve public safety and create bike lanes separated from vehicular traffic.  Preliminary plans show a reduction to one lane of vehicular traffic in each direction with a center turn lane and a consequent decrease in parking spaces.  Use this link to view the City’s project description and plans: 

The two projects are so closely tied with overlapping project scopes that the two agencies must communicate and cooperate effectively.  As a retired development and construction project manager, I see a lot of risk inherent in this situation.  It’s easy to imagine really good intentions and ideas being cast aside because of the difficulty of coordinating two separate projects with possibly competing objectives and schedules and, of course, inevitable budget quarrels.

Schedule information remains very preliminary.  Caltrans has ambitions to start by the end of 2024, but that is subject to change.  OakDOT is currently re-evaluating its plans and schedule.

Public outreach for these projects was started by both agencies in 2022, though I doubt that many of our neighbors are actually aware of it.  Distributing information widely to the public can be a difficult task, especially if you are a public agency that’s trying to avoid controversy and not set off alarm bells. I hope this article triggers an alarm for you.  More to come in the next edition of Splashpad News.

Jerry is a graduate in architecture from UC Berkeley. After a long career in construction and real estate development – which included the redevelopment of Old Oakland, construction of Stern Grove, and a management role for the Christ the Light Cathedral – he is now happily retired. Jerry and his wife, Caryn, have lived in the Grand Lake Neighborhood for 39 years.


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2 responses to “On the Street”

  1. Susi Raub Vogler Avatar
    Susi Raub Vogler

    Jerry, this is very exciting! When we moved here in 2003 I found Grand Avenue area rather intimidating and uninviting, not to mention its vulnerability as a crime target due to easy auto accessibility, which as a driver I have enjoyed, but would not mind giving up for a friendlier, less car dominated space.

    1. Jerry Barclay Avatar
      Jerry Barclay

      Susi,
      I look forward to a deeper dive on the possible changes coming up, and hope you will share your thoughts as more information and awareness is developed.
      Jerry