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West Oakland Link Hits Major Project Milestone

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Photo of current conditions and a rendering of the proposed project solution at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Mandela Parkway in West Oakland.

The West Oakland Link, a proposed bicycle/pedestrian path connection between West Oakland and the Bay Bridge Trail, hit a major milestone this week with the release of a draft environmental document. The adoption of this report after public review will pave the way to begin detailed design of the 1.1-mile-long Class 1 elevated multi-use path plus an additional 1.5 miles of connecting on-street bike lanes.

By connecting Mandela Parkway with the existing Bay Bridge Trail through Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline to the Bay Bridge East Span, the West Oakland Link aims to enhance public safety in an industrial area crisscrossed by Port of Oakland, rail and freeway infrastructure. Once the Link is constructed, residents of West Oakland and the greater East Bay will be able to bike and walk safely through the West Grand Avenue corridor on a path that is separated from truck and rail traffic. The Link also will connect the City of Oakland’s growing network of walking and biking routes with the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines, project sponsors must study what effects new projects may have on the environment. If an Initial Study (IS) indicates there could be significant impacts, this triggers the need for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). If a proposed project is not found to have significant environmental impacts, a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) may be prepared instead.

The West Oakland Link falls into the latter category, and the project’s Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) provides both a detailed project description and analysis of potential “less-than-significant” impacts in topic areas ranging from aesthetics to wildfire. Key findings show that possible impacts would come primarily from construction, with recommended mitigations ranging from dust control to appropriate disposal of hazardous materials encountered during soil excavation.

As part of the environmental process, MTC’s Bay Area Toll Authority affiliate invites the public to review the IS/MND and provide public comment until July 14. As the lead CEQA agency, BATA will review both public comment and the information contained in the IS/MND before approving the project.

The comprehensive IS/MND is available electronically on the West Oakland Link project web page. Printed copies can be viewed in person at the Bay Area Metro Center at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco and at two Oakland libraries: the Oakland Public Library Main Branch (125 14th Street) or the Oakland Public Library West Oakland Branch (1801 Adeline Street). Comment can be provided online at the project web page, via email to Gavin Lohry at glohry@bayareametro.gov, or by mail to Gavin Lohry, Bay Area Toll Authority, 375 Beale Street, Suite 800, San Francisco CA 94105.

A virtual public meeting where attendees can learn more about the proposed project, the environmental review, and the public comment process will be held on Wednesday, June 29, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Register today at bit.ly/wolmeeting. After registration, participants will receive an email with the meeting link and dial-in instructions.

The projected $65 million project is supported by the Bay Area Toll Authority, Alameda County Transportation Commission, the City of Oakland and Caltrans, and likely will be implemented in phases depending on the availability of state and other funds.

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