Oakland is a vital transportation hub in the Bay Area, connecting the Port of Oakland—a global gateway for the Northern California Megaregion—to the rest of the nation. Embarcadero West is a one-mile city street accommodating freight trains, passenger trains, motor vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians with no physical separation. Approximately 80 trains a day use this corridor operated by Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Amtrak/Capitol Corridor. This rail corridor is one of the largest bottlenecks for both UPRR and Amtrak, which see frequent delays from vehicles inadvertently getting stuck on the tracks.
The Embarcadero Railroad Safety Project will significantly improve multi-modal safety and accessibility along the corridor and to surrounding neighborhoods and businesses, and reduce travel times for freight and passenger rail through the following improvements:
- 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 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 would be constructed between Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Jefferson Street and between Clay and Washington Street (and potentially to Broadway or Oak Street, if feasible). The multiuse path would also accommodate emergency vehicles and authorized service vehicles.
- Remove on-street parking along Clay Street between Embarcadero West and 2nd Street.
- Slow vehicle speeds and eliminate left turns across 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 with preemption (as required by UPRR) at Broadway/2nd Street and Oak Street/2nd Street.
The Embarcadero Railroad Safety Project will also upgrade 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. This will add street lighting, improve multi-modal safety and accessibility, and re-grade the street to improve sight distance and accommodate ADA improvements. On-street parking on Clay Street between Embarcadero West and 2nd Street would be removed so that ADA improvements and sidewalk widening are possible.
This project is currently in the early design phase.
Past Engagement and Outcomes
- 2019 Oakland Bike Plan. This Plan proposes a Class 1 bike path on Embarcadero West between Brush Street and Clay Street. See interactive Existing and Proposed Bikeways map.
- 2019 Downtown Oakland Specific Plan (DOSP). This plan proposed a rail safety project on Embarcadero West between Market Street and Oak Street that would install crossing treatments and fencing at each intersection and transform Embarcadero West into a “quiet zone” and an enhanced pedestrian corridor (which would provide a safer connection between Howard Terminal to Jack London).
- Draft Howard Terminal Transportation Plan. Building upon prior planning efforts, the public was engaged in the conceptual development of the projects in 2019 and 2020 through “on the ground” surveys that reached hundreds of Oaklanders in high priority neighborhoods adjacent to the waterfront, a series of community workshops, and stakeholder meetings as summarized here:
- In-person engagement included surveys, community meetings, and stakeholder meetings focused on West Oakland, Jack London Square and Chinatown. Over 500 surveys were conducted in English, Spanish, and Chinese, and happened on-board buses, at transit hubs, and on high-traffic corridors for a total of over 200 hours on the ground. In addition to in-person surveys, online surveys were also advertised to Oaklanders with a specific focus on the 94607 zip code (including West Oakland, Old Oakland, Chinatown, and Jack London Square). The people who took the surveys, according to the demographic questions, were representative of the City’s demographics.
- Four community meetings with about 30 attendees each were held in the neighborhoods of focus, including West Oakland, Jack London Square, Chinatown, and a maritime stakeholder-specific workshop.
- Ten key stakeholder meetings were held with leaders of each community where projects are proposed to be implemented, and with transportation advocates.
- Staff made multiple presentations to the Bicyclist and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
- Final and Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Waterfront Ballpark District. As a result of the comments received on the Draft EIR, the Embarcadero Railroad Safety Project become a larger set of recommended improvements in the Final EIR.
$123.4 million (up to date as of February 7, 2023)