Berkeley BART plaza workshop comes Monday

An early conceptual rendering of the new Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza.

An early conceptual rendering of the new Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza.

A new project underway to improve the BART plaza in downtown Berkeley is gaining steam, with a public workshop scheduled for Monday afternoon.

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.

Members of the public will have a chance to review the project goals and timeline, meet the design team and share opinions about design sustainability, transit infrastructure, bike and pedestrian amenities, and downtown commerce and arts.

The meeting is scheduled to take place Monday, Feb. 3, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library third floor community room, 2090 Kittredge St.

Via the flyer prepared for Monday’s meeting: “The Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza and Transit Area Improvement Project will serve a signature place-making function for the Downtown Area and improve access for an influx of new residents and employees.”

BART plaza project. Image: City of Berkeley

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

The plaza currently serves more than 30,000 daily transit riders including BART, AC Transit, and UC Berkeley Bear Transit Shuttle, according to BART. The project is slated to improve “traffic safety and enhance the transit rider experience.” (See the project 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.

The project will “redevelop and reallocate the public space surrounding the station, improve pedestrian safety, support commerce, arts and entertainment, replace sidewalk materials and landscaping, and incorporate other design amenities.”

It is tied into the Shattuck Couplet Reconfiguration Project, and will “serve as an invaluable capital improvement to the City of Berkeley, its residents and merchants, and transit riders of the East Bay,” say planners. The city received nearly $13 million in downtown transit-related grants last summer.

Projects funded by those grants, in addition to the BART plaza improvements, include changes to Shattuck and Hearst avenues. The western arm of Shattuck, currently southbound one-way, will become two-way to eliminate the northbound intersection at University. The eastern arm will be reconfigured to make room for more street parking. Hearst Avenue will receive a bike lane, a continuous sidewalk on the south side, and other pedestrian safety features between Shattuck and Gayley Road.

The BART plaza would, under the proposal, retain its triangular footprint, but be reorganized. Benches, trees, bike parking and lighting will be replaced and moved. Handicapped ramps on curbs will be upgraded. There will also be better soil for the trees, storm water run-off improvements, and opportunities for public art and performance space.

The Downtown Berkeley Association has been pushing for these changes for years, John Caner, the association’s CEO, told Berkeleyside previously.

“We see the renovation of BART Plaza as key to the revitalization of downtown,” Caner said. “This is really important for bringing people and new investment to downtown.”

Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

For more information, email Scott Smith, BART Office of District Architect.

Related:
New 16-story hotel proposed for downtown Berkeley (12.19.13)
Downtown Berkeley BART plaza slated for major overhaul (11.26.13)
Berkeley set for $12.7m in downtown transport grants (05.28.13)
Berkeley council approves plans to green downtown (01.30.13)
Berkeley’s downtown BART is all roses as part of clean-up (07.17.12)
Downtown PBID passes overwhelmingly (06.29.11)
BART plaza to become an inviting spot (08.04.10)

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  • Hmmm

    Is it possible to line the floor of the plaza with spikes to discourage people from camping out in it all day so they can smoke pot and panhandle with their aggressive pit bulls?

  • chamelean75

    Is there a way to view the drawings and the details for the project online? If people can’t make the meeting, where do we send comments to?

  • emraguso

    You might want to take a look at the application linked to in the above story — not sure if that will help. Or try writing the BART contact listed at the bottom of the story and see what he can provide. I’m sure you could send him comments, too.

  • batardo

    The sidewalk-level brick walls around the escalators are a urine magnet, especially on the side that’s obscured from street view. Should replace them with glass panels.

  • http://ryantate.com ryantate

    It’s ridiculous we’ve got a four-lane stroad running through our ostensible downtown. Shattuck should probably be closed to all auto traffic, save for bus and paratransit (one lane each way), between University and Dwight. MLK and Oxford can help pick up the slack.

  • supersickandtired

    why don’t they make it a single lane for buses get rid of all parking and ban cars in the area…that is sarcasm but i’m sure there is a group of people who would like to do this.

  • Guest

    Yeah, exactly: so often these meetings appear to be set up in a way to make it as hard as possible to attend. For example, this one is scheduled from 4:30-7:30pm. So that excludes anyone with a full-time job, as well as anyone with a desire to eat dinner at a reasonable hour.

    This is the 21st century–why can’t the city use less-antiquated methods to allow people to contribute? There are tons of online methods that would allow people to evaluate and comment on alternatives and contribute their own ideas. We’re in the heart of one of the most technologically-advanced societies in the world, but you’d never know it from the way the city operates. Sigh.

  • Guest

    TOTALLY agree with the sentiment, but my hope would be to take a more business-friendly approach, along the lines of what’s been so successfully done along Center Street. Why can’t that space be used for outdoor dining for a restaurant/cafe or two? Maybe there could be a small building placed next to the BART escalators that would house the cashier and kitchen? I’m thinking of a model similar to the Brazil Cafe in the parking lot of Mike’s Bikes at University and Walnut. Getting someone in there with a vested financial interest in keeping the space nice will do huge amounts more than anything the BPD or the DBA Ambassadors can do. (That’s not a criticism of either the BPD or the DBA Ambassadors–I’m a fan of both–it’s just a comment on how the world works.)

  • FiatSlug

    Too much, too soon. That’s why.

  • FiatSlug

    It’s ridiculous to jump straight to the goal without first achieving the milestones necessary to reach the goal.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Great idea. Paris Baguette is right there and should create an outside seating area after the plaza is overhauled. A food cart with seating would also be very good.

  • Bryan Garcia

    Interesting you should say this about Paris Baguette. Shortly before they opened, they actually *were* working on an outdoor seating area. They had the railing installed and everything. Then one day it was gone. I’m guessing they didn’t get the proper city approval or something? Very strange. I think if you walk by there, you can still see where they marked and drilled into the brick ground to install the railing.

  • FiatSlug

    Dream on.

    It’s ridiculous to move to that point without considering the consequences. Tell you what: get free mass transit for all Berkeley residents funded first and in place before even trying to shut down Shattuck to private vehicles.

    I’d love for that stretch of Shattuck Ave to be a virtual pedestrian mall, but it’s not practical to go from where it is now as the workhorse north-south thoroughfare through downtown to being lightly used for any vehicle traffic. MLK and Oxford can’t take the volume of additional traffic such a move would require.

  • Bill N

    They need to be taken out period with no panels, glass or otherwise. It needs to be a really open space with tree plantings, good lights and an easily cleaned relatively light covered surface. I like the outside seating for the restaurant (I thought that was coming when the Paris Baguette came in) or the Brazil cafe model mentioned in an earlier post. Also, I hope the video transit sign stays.

  • Guest

    Agreed. it looks to me like there’d be plenty of room for both Paris Baguette and a food card/small outdoor restaurant to each have their own seating areas.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I noticed that at the time. It was a nicely designed railing.

    Currently, there is a narrow space for pedestrians to pass there. When they overhaul the BART plaza, there will be a wide space – and hopefully the city will let Paris Baguette put in a larger seating area than they planned originally.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I think that this is not a formal meeting, that people can come in any time after 4:30 and stay as long as they want, looking at plans and talking to staff – so people who work in Berkeley can stop by after work, and people who commute on BART can stop by after they get off of BART.

    That is how it worked at past city meetings in this library room. Maybe Emilie can clarify.

  • ebvv

    LOL, I truly understand what you’re saying. They need a security or police foot control like they have in downtown Oakland (with the vivid bright jackets), to keep those people moving along if they are not waiting for the buses or shopping or patronizing the businesses in the area.

  • EBGuy

    Looking forward to the back in angled parking along the eastern portion of Shattuck.
    I will admit the rest of this comment is made in ignorance, but is this a case of “the transportation engineer” knows better (re: back in angled parking).

  • Bill N

    I remember that – I thought it strange the railings disappeared the next time I went by. This would be a perfect place for outdoor cafe seating but they need to get rid of those low walls and open up the space.

  • guest

    For $11,000,000 can we get a clean & safe public bathroom? Or, is that too sophisticated for the City of Berkeley to operate? If McDonalds can operate a bathroom, we can too!

  • guest

    The floor should be lined with high-pressure hot soapy water jets to wash away dogs, debris and urine every two hours.

  • Poop Everywhere

    McDonald’s can refuse service to sketchy bums and weirdos. The City of Berkeley won’t.

    Have you ever been in that public bathroom at Civic Center park? It’s the stuff of nightmares.

  • batardo

    Agreed, open and visible is good. Small problem with escalators though, need something around the opening in the sidewalk.

    Open fencing would work, except the bums would just peep and poop through it.

  • batardo

    I think the best solution would be for DBA to build and operate a free bathroom concession manned by an attendant with a Taser and a baseball bat.

    Some things you just can’t do with public money.

  • Guest

    Charles:

    You are correct–it is a drop-in open house. See http://www.bart.gov/sites/default/files/docs/Downtown_Berkeley_Open_House.pdf for all the details.

  • Rebecca Saltzman

    Yes, please drop in at any time. Some of the stakeholders asked for the open house to start earlier, but there is no need to arrive when it starts.

    There will be more community meetings later this year to seek public input.

    I am the BART board member that represents the area and you can find my contact info on the BART website if you’d like to share your thoughts on the redesign: http://www.bart.gov/about/bod/bodMembersDetail_03

    I will share your suggestion about gathering online feedback with the project staff.