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City of Oakland Awards $25 Million Contract to Deliver Transformative Railroad Safety, Freight, and Access Improvements to Historic and Working Waterfront

The awarded contract marks a milestone in a transformative investment along the Embarcadero West corridor, addressing long-standing local and regional transportation needs. The improvements will benefit Oakland residents, workers, and visitors to the Jack London waterfront, improve access to the Oakland ferry terminal, and make both freight and passenger rail safer and more reliable for all of Northern California.

Map of Project Area

The City of Oakland announced today that it 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 the reconstruction of the City’s 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 project includes 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. Overweight trucks are currently travelling down 7th Street in the West Oakland neighborhood, and these improvements will allow trucks to return to their original route. Parsons will also deliver a feasibility study to analyze potential grade separated crossings between Adeline Street and Clay Street.

The design of the Embarcadero West Rail Safety and Access Improvements is funded by a California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) grant to the Port of Oakland for improvements that facilitate enhanced freight and passenger access in and around the seaport and waterfront and to promote the efficient and safe movement of goods and people, and a California Transportation Commission Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP) grant. 


“Oakland is delivering on this next step towards a safer, more accessible, and vibrant working waterfront,” said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. “This project, along with neighboring projects, will reconnect communities in West Oakland, Chinatown, and Downtown to the waterfront while enhancing our crucial and historic port and railroad industries.”

The Embarcadero West Rail Safety and Access Improvements project will enhance safety and reliability on this critical rail corridor serving Northern California’s largest port: the Port of Oakland, and regional freight and passenger rail lines. The project will provide significant safety improvements to one of the most complex transportation environments along the 170-mile Capitol Corridor route from San Jose to Auburn. According to Amtrak incident data from 2019-2022, over a quarter of all Capitol Corridor grade crossing vehicle incidents are concentrated along this one-mile segment of Embarcadero West.

“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 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.”

OakDOT will work with residents, businesses, railroad operators, port operations, and other stakeholders to transform the historic Embarcadero West built environment into a thoughtfully connected transportation system. The proposed transportation plans include safety improvements that allow rail operators to efficiently traverse the corridor, while accommodating pedestrian and cycling transitions between transportation terminals.

“OakDOT is more poised now than ever to deliver these unprecedented capital investments,” said Fred Kelley, Director of OakDOT. “Thank you to our City leaders and staff for working so swiftly to move this project to the next step, to Parsons for their partnership, and to all the community members and many stakeholders whose engagement and input will be crucial to the success of this project.”

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.

The Embarcadero West Rail Safety and Access Improvements Project is part of a broader suite of projects being designed and delivered by OakDOT’s Major Projects Division to strengthen connections between West Oakland, Chinatown, Downtown, Old Oakland, and the Jack London District, while enhancing goods movement around the Port of Oakland and safety for all road users. Collectively, these projects address multi-modal safety and health issues, enhance goods movement, and implement longstanding transportation plans to overcome challenges that have vexed neighboring communities and the Port’s economy for years.


Posted: February 14th, 2024 4:35 PM

Last Updated: July 11th, 2024 8:14 PM

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