City of Oakland awards $25 million contract for rail safety, reconstruction project

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California Construction News staff writer

The City of Oakland has selected Parsons Transportation Group, Inc. to develop engineering designs and conduct community engagement for the Embarcadero West Rail Safety and Access Improvements Project, and reconstruction of the overweight corridor.

The $25 million design contract is one of the largest in the city’s history. The project will significantly improve multi-modal safety and accessibility along the Embarcadero corridor and to surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. When constructed, the improvements will also reduce travel times for freight and passenger rail.

“The complex nature of the intersecting modes of transportation on Embarcadero West, including rail, vehicles, and people walking and rolling, deserves complex transportation solutions to ensure safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible movement of people, goods, and vehicles,” said District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife. “I’m proud to support this project that will improve reliability and access to local, regional, and intercity transit.”

The project includes completing improved safety designs for eight at-grade railroad crossings from Oak Street to Market Street, designing a pedestrian and bicycle trail connection between transit stations, installing fencing along the railroad tracks between intersections, and the redevelopment of the overweight corridor, which accommodates trucks between 80,000 and 95,000 pounds by permit only, from Middle Harbor Road to Market Street.

“The Jack London district is a crucial intersection of Oakland’s history as a working waterfront and railroad connection to the entire country,” said Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas. “By securing this contract, OakDOT can deliver a project that will consider that enormous scale while making sure the improvements work to reconnect Oaklanders to the Jack London Square waterfront and improve access to businesses.”

Proposed improvements include:

  • Reconstruct and upgrade eight at-grade crossings between Market Street and Oak Street to increase safety and protect freight and passenger rail operations, including new railroad and pedestrian crossing arms and equipment, directional signage, pavement delineation, high-visibility crosswalks, bulb-outs, and intersection safety lighting.
  • Install fencing between intersections to provide physical separation between trains and all other road users.
  • Construct a multiuse path on the existing eastbound vehicle lane to accommodate bicyclists, pedestrians, scooters, and other micro-mobility users, creating a low-stress connection between major transit stops and the city’s network of bike lanes. The multi-use path is planned to be constructed between Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Webster Street. The multi-use path would also accommodate emergency vehicles and authorized service vehicles.
  • Provide a convenient, ADA accessible route to a future transit hub to connect ferry goers, rail passengers, bike-share users, and others to extended bus-only lanes on Broadway.
  • Slow vehicle speeds and improve safe vehicle access along the railroad tracks by installing traffic diverters at each intersection. This will create right-turn only intersections on the westbound lane and minimize incidents where drivers inadvertently travel off pavement onto the railroad tracks. Vehicles will still be able to travel straight across the tracks to destinations along the waterfront.
  • Install new traffic signals at intersections approaching the railroad tracks.
  • Reconstruct a roadway connection that accommodates the overweight corridor between Middle Harbor Road and Market Street that was used prior to the Adeline Bridge. The Adeline Bridge was deemed insufficient to accommodate overweight trucks in 2021, and trucks have been travelling through the 7th Street corridor in West Oakland as an interim measure.

The Embarcadero West Rail Safety and Access Improvements will also upgrade street segments perpendicular to the rail corridor between Embarcadero West and 2nd Street on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to Oak Street and on Market Street between Embarcadero West and 3rd Street.

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