Downtown Berkeley BART plaza slated for major overhaul

The city of Berkeley is undertaking a new project to renovate the downtown Berkeley BART entrances, build a new bus shelter and construct a redesigned Plaza. (This is a conceptual drawing for illustrative purposes only.) Image: City of Berkeley
The city of Berkeley is undertaking a new project to renovate the downtown Berkeley BART entrances, build a new bus shelter and construct a redesigned Plaza. (This is a conceptual drawing for illustrative purposes only.) Image: City of Berkeley

Major changes are in the works for Berkeley’s downtown BART plaza, with two public meetings about the project coming up in January.

The project, funded in part by a grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission, includes renovation of the BART entrances, a new bus shelter and a redesigned Constitution Plaza. It is estimated to cost $11.44 million, most of which will be covered by the grant.

The community open houses, to which all members of the public are invited, will be set for January. Details about the meetings have not been released, but Berkeleyside will provide them when they are.

Participants will be able to review concept designs, provide input, identify issue areas and potential solutions, and learn more about the project history and timeline. Members of the community will have a chance to speak directly with BART and city staff, as well as the professional design consultants leading the effort. 

“It’s a major opportunity to upgrade the center of our downtown, which hasn’t been changed much since it was first installed in 1970,” said city transportation planner Matt Nichols. “It’s a chance to imagine a better public space, a more memorable space, that’s easier to find your way around. It will be more inviting, less dangerous, and just a nicer place to be in the heart of our downtown.”

According to the project application, the station has 24,000 daily entries and exits, and AC Transit has over 6,000 daily boardings or alightings on local, trunk, Rapid, and Transbay service in the project area. (See the application here.)

“Thousands of pedestrians and hundreds of bicyclists traverse the area. However, aging infrastructure and design flaws reduce the accessibility and safety of this major regional transit center. Bus riders lack adequate waiting areas, seating and wayfinding signage. Some sidewalks segments are too narrow for existing pedestrian volumes, and there are substandard curb ramps and poor elevator access for disabled persons. Bicycle parking is inadequate and poorly placed. The secondary BART lighting and maintenance problems, and its bulk restricts sightlines. The current brick plaza surface and vegetation are difficult to clean and maintain,” according to the application.

BART plaza project. Image: City of Berkeley
A conceptual drawing for illustrative purposes. Image: City of Berkeley

A lightweight and photovoltaic roof canopy above the main BART entrance could provide daylighting, natural ventilation and solar power to the station and the plaza.

Nichols said that level of detail remains to be determined, but that “sustainability is a major goal of the project, so we’re going to look at everything we can do to reduce energy and incorporate sustainable features.”

The project also includes the construction of a modernized bus canopy to make connection to the BART entrance more convenient, along with enhanced weather protection and realtime transit information.

The project aims, too, to “make this precious downtown public space memorable by beautifying hardscape, creating unique lighting, and mitigating noise and storm water run-off through use of low impact plants such as bamboos and native shrubs.”

A new stairway will be added to the main entrance between the existing escalators to provide bike access and to enhance station throughput.

The project also aims to improve way-finding and connections to and from the station by better utilizing the existing portal to the east side of Shattuck Avenue, which will provide access to the Cal campus and Memorial Stadium.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

Details about the meetings in January will be forthcoming on Berkeleyside.

Related:
Berkeley set for $12.7m in downtown transportation grants (5.28.13)
BART Plaza to become an inviting spot (08.04.10)

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and Facebook. Email us at tips@berkeleyside.com. Get the latest Berkeley news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.