Tag Archives: Caltrans

Homeless advocates in Berkeley say officials are dumping too many prized personal possessions

Crews load stuff found near Gilman Street in June  Photo: Ted Friedman
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By Mary Rees

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but who gets to decide which it is?

Every two weeks, Caltrans clears items out from the homeless encampments along the Gilman Street underpass near Interstate 80, according to Bob Haus, the public information branch chief for Caltrans. Sometimes workers from the city of Berkeley remove things, too, such as on July 7.

Read more about Berkeley homelessness on Berkeleyside.

The clean-ups are announced in advance, and when workers arrive the people living there pack up their things as quickly as they can and move them a few hundred feet. Then crews from Caltrans and Berkeley sift through what’s left and decide what’s valuable and what’s not.

“If belongings are deemed valuable, we hold onto them for 30 days at the nearest maintenance yard,” Haus said. If something’s unclaimed and considered worthless, Caltrans disposes of it. … Continue reading »

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Authorities clear out Gilman homeless camp in Berkeley

A homeless couple sleeps as Berkeley city officials watch Berkeley and Caltrans work crews clear out a homeless encampment near the Gilman Street interchange of I-80, in Berkeley, on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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In a coordinated effort, workers from Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and the city of Berkeley cleared out a large homeless encampment on Gilman Street near the I-80 freeway on Thursday.

It’s the latest chapter in a struggle that has been going on for years between homeless denizens who have set up their tents on Gilman in West Berkeley, and authorities who say the squalid conditions that result cannot be left unchecked.

Jim Hynes, with the Berkeley city manager’s office, said homeless outreach, city maintenance crews, mental health workers and environmental health staff were all on the scene to help out. He estimated that five containers of syringes, some 250 needles, had been removed, along with numerous bottles of human urine.

“It’s not a pretty sight, that’s for sure,” he said.  … Continue reading »

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Father of girl struck by car calls for better traffic control

Oski, the mascot of UC Berkeley, paid a visit to Lillia Bartlow this week. Photo: Bartlow family
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The father of a 9-year-old girl struck by a taxi in a crosswalk last week was among a small contingent of parents and administrators from John Muir Elementary School who asked the Berkeley City Council for pedestrian safety improvements in the area Tuesday.

Darryl Bartlow, whose daughter Lillia was hit March 8 while crossing Claremont Avenue with her mother after they attended an evening PTA meeting at the school, described a devastating week softened by “a great outpouring of love and concern” from the community. Both Lillia’s legs were broken and she may need to be in a wheelchair for up to a year, Bartlow said. It is unclear when she will be able to return to John Muir, where she is a fourth-grade student. She is home from the hospital.

Bartlow is a longtime Berkeley resident and graduate of Berkeley public schools. He worked for the Alameda County Probation Department for 30 years and now sits on the city’s Personnel Board. At the council meeting, he asked council members to install traffic lights at the crosswalk where Lillia was hit, which is directly in front of the elementary school, on Claremont Avenue at Claremont Crescent. … Continue reading »

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Coming soon: Less traffic with a smart Interstate 80

When the I-80 Smart Corridor Project is completed in late 2015, motorists will see signs telling them about the traffic flow before them. Photo:  Smart Corridor Project
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Motorists driving south on Interstate 80 near Gilman might have been surprised recently by a new sign with flashing “Xs,” yellow and green arrows, or a “30” or “55.”

The sign is part of the I-80 Smart Corridor Project, an ambitious and technologically advanced $79 million endeavor to smooth the travel of the 270,000 cars that traverse from the Carquinez Bridge to the Bay Bridge each day. … Continue reading »

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Ashby Avenue in Berkeley to close 2 nights for road work

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The stretch of Ashby, a state highway, will be closed to all traffic from 10 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18, to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19. It will be closed the same hours from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, according to a Caltrans statement.

Caltrans will also close one lane in each direction from Interstate 80 to San Pablo Avenue from Monday, Aug. 18, to Friday, Aug. 22. Those lanes will be unavailable to drivers from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. … Continue reading »

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Caltrans fence forces homeless to find new camp

In a photo taken in April, homeless people adjust to their new cramped sleeping situation after Caltrans erected a fence in the area under I-80 on Gilman Street. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Responding to complaints that the homeless people who camped under the Gilman/I-80 underpass were engaged in criminal activity, Caltrans has fenced off the area — pushing the encampment onto a narrow strip nearby.

Caltrans installed the fencing between Feb. 10 and March 6 at the request of the Berkeley Police Department, “in order to help curtail criminal activity in the area,” said Caltrans spokesman Robert Haus via email.

“We have had complaints regarding criminal activity associated with the encampment down there,” said police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats via email. “We have reached out to those camping in the area through members of our Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), Area Coordinators, and Mobile Crisis workers.” … Continue reading »

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New Bay Bridge span: 2 minutes, 3 years of building

Bay Bridge east span
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After 11 years of construction, and 23 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake took part of it out, the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is nearly done. Caltrans plans to open the bridge to traffic this September. While we wait for the opening, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has released a fascinating 2-minute timelapse video of construction since 2009, put together from EarthCam‘s webcam footage. It makes it look so easy.

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Major paving work to begin mid-June on Ashby Avenue

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For any and all Berkeleyans who live close to Ashby Avenue, it may be time to get stocked up on earplugs. Starting soon — mid-June is the official date —  Caltrans will begin resurfacing Ashby (otherwise known as State Route 13), from Hiller Drive west to San Pablo Avenue.

As requested by the city, all construction work, which includes grinding and resurfacing, will take place on weekdays only during the daytime hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Night-time work will be limited to digout repairs at the intersections of Ashby and Telegraph, and Ashby and Shattuck, according to a statement released by Caltrans. All final striping for the project will be done during daytime and nighttime hours.

The work is expected to be completed by early fall 2012.

The first stage of the work will be on the Tunnel Road section, with the intention of completing all construction there as quickly as possible to accommodate emergency responders as we head into the fire season. … Continue reading »

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Malcolm X parents raise concerns over pedestrian safety

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Perhaps it’s because this particular school is located on a state highway, or perhaps it’s because one of its six-year-old students was run over on a crosswalk next to the school three years ago. Most likely both factors have contributed to a strong feeling among many parents at Malcolm X Elementary School that pedestrian safety needs to be improved on Ashby Avenue (State Highway 13), in particular at the point where it intersects with Ellis Street.

Promised improvements, they say, have been a long time coming and many problems have still not been addressed. In response, the city cites the particular difficulty it faces with green-lighting work on Ashby which, because it is a highway, comes under the jurisdiction of Caltrans. “It is very challenging for us, because any work we want to do involves submitting an encroachment permit to Caltrans, and, with state budget issues, Caltrans has been very slow to respond,” says Farid Javandel, Berkeley’s transportation division manager. … Continue reading »

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