Tag Archives: Farid Javandel

‘Double-roundabouts’ approved at Berkeley’s Gilman interchange; can’t happen without Measure BB money

Gilman
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After many months of analysis, and about a decade in development, Caltrans has said the city can move ahead with plans for proposed double-roundabouts in the problematic I-80 and Gilman Street interchange in West Berkeley.

It’s the first time the transportation agency has approved a concept for double-roundabouts in the region, according to city of Berkeley transportation chief Farid Javandel. In early October, Caltrans gave Berkeley staff the green light to move ahead with an environmental review of the project, and the city went public with the news Monday.

Whether the project can actually happen depends on the November election: Funding for the double-roundabouts, along with other significant investments in Berkeley, is part of Measure BB, the county-wide transportation tax. Without approval of that measure, the city won’t be able to proceed. (Scroll down for details.)

Currently, there are eight entry points to the intersection on either side of the freeway. The intersections are controlled by stop signs but drivers are often unsure about who has the right of way. Berkeleyside readers have called the area “a ridiculous mess” and “the most dysfunctional intersection … anywhere in the United States.”

The city has said the intersection “is one of the most problematic in Berkeley. It also generates the most complaints.” … Continue reading »

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Police

Berkeley police rule cyclist responsible for fatal crash

Kurt Wehner. Photo via Facebook
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Authorities have found a 62-year-old Berkeley cyclist at fault for the crash with a vehicle that ultimately took his life about three weeks ago.

In response to repeated inquiries from Berkeleyside, police said Tuesday that Kurt Wehner rode through a stop sign and crashed into a 2008 Volkswagen in a North Berkeley intersection Sept. 21 shortly after 8 a.m. at Spruce and Eunice streets.

Wehner, a longtime Berkeley resident, died the following day at Highland Hospital.

Berkeley police investigators said Tuesday in a prepared statement that Wehner had been riding his mountain-style bike south on Spruce toward Eunice, where there was a posted stop sign for southbound traffic.

“Just prior the bicyclist was passing vehicles on the wrong side of the roadway at an unsafe speed in violation of the posted 25 mph speed limit,” police wrote.

The Volkswagen — driven by a 63-year-old Berkeley resident whose name has not been released — had stopped on Eunice facing east. The driver had proceeded into the intersection when, police say, Wehner crashed into the vehicle.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to look at residential permit parking citywide

The city of Berkeley is looking at expanding its permit parking program to ease the crush in residential neighborhoods. Photo: Chris Makarsky
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The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to study whether permit parking might be needed in more residential neighborhoods throughout the city, and whether the cost to buy those permits should increase.

To be included, residents would have to opt in to the program by garnering the support of at least 51% of homes per block face. In addition, a parking survey would need to show that at least 75% of available street parking is occupied at mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Council will set the boundaries but it is residents themselves who will determine which blocks will participate.

Parking in West Berkeley, particularly around Fourth Street and the city Corporation Yard on Allston Way, has been an area of concern for officials, as are blocks near Sacramento Street where many city staff reportedly park.

The city hopes to learn — via a new environmental study — where it might make the most sense to expand the permit parking program. Berkeley currently has 14 permit (RPP) zones in central Berkeley, most of which are near commercial areas. Via the staff report, “The existing RPP zones are bounded roughly on the north by Rose, Hopkins and Eunice Streets; on the east by UC Berkeley; on the south by Woolsey and part of 62nd Street; and on the west by Sacramento and Chestnut Streets.”

Read more about parking and transportation issues in Berkeley.Continue reading »

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Council weighs in on new downtown Berkeley plaza plans

For the first time last week, the Berkeley City Council weighed in on improvements planned for the downtown Berkeley plaza and BART station. (Click the image for details.) Image: BART
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Berkeley’s main downtown plaza is set for some major changes in the next few years, and the Berkeley City Council had a chance to share ideas about the project last week.

The project is driven in large part by BART, which intends to renovate its station entrances, improve travel through the plaza, at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, repave the area and make it easier to for visitors to navigate the area.

BART announced plans for the plaza late last year, and held public meetings in February and April to collect public feedback.  … Continue reading »

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AC Transit rolls back Line 51 changes after pushback

AC Transit hopes to speed up and improve service on Line 51. Photo: Paul Sullivan/Flickr
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Citing budgetary and scheduling constraints, along with a desire to listen to community concerns, AC Transit has removed most of the “controversial” items from its proposal to improve service on the Line 51 bus route in Berkeley.

“I think it’s safe to say it contains a lot less potentially controversial items than previously,” AC Transit representative Robert del Rosario told Berkeley’s Transportation Commission on Thursday night.

The panel voted to recommend the current list of modifications to the Berkeley City Council, which is expected to consider the item in April. Four members of the commission were absent, with commissioners Eric McCaughrin, Darby Watson, Terry Roberts, Ghanya Thomas and Mark Humbert voting unanimously to recommend that council approve the plan. … Continue reading »

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Traffic signal upgrades planned on Line 51 route

Proposed changes along the Line 51 route in Berkeley. (Click to view larger.) Image: AC Transit
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Intersections along AC Transit’s Line 51 bus route in Berkeley may see upgrades, if approved by city staff, designed to improve traffic signal timing coordination and allow signals to better recognize when vehicles are waiting for a green light.

The changes are part of a larger plan by AC Transit to speed up and improve service on Line 51. Thursday night, Berkeley’s Transportation Commission approved the signal changes as Phase 1 of the project. City transportation staff said they will take a closer look at those proposals before giving AC Transit the final go-ahead.

More controversial changes under consideration — such as a new traffic light at Russell Street and College Avenue, new bus bulbs, and the removal of numerous parking spots along University and College avenues — will be considered at a later date.  … Continue reading »

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Caldecott’s fourth bore: What does it mean for Berkeley?

Caldecott Tunnel approach at night
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Out and about around Ashby Avenue over the weekend? Notice anything different?

To some, it may have been just another South Berkeley weekend in November, with the usual hustle of cars and bicycles, trucks and pedestrians. But to others, eyes and ears were attuned to any changes or new twists in traffic, as Saturday marked the threshold from planning for the new fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel, to living it.  … Continue reading »

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Debate over new Tunnel Rd bike lane centers on parking

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 11.47.31 AM
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Plans for a bike lane on Tunnel Road — under negotiation for the past year between the city, residents and biking advocates — will be discussed Thursday night at a city Transportation Commission meeting.

Last fall, the city proposed a bike lane on the uphill side of Tunnel Road between the Claremont Hotel and the city line, near Highway 24, a road busy with recreational cyclists as well as bike commuters. The proposal eliminated all parking, making many residents unhappy.

“We take the brunt of all the traffic,” said Jacquelyn McCormick, president of Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association. “To ask one street to give 100% of something is unfair.”

At a meeting Oct. 9, city staff, residents and bike advocates discussed a revised plan, which restored many but not all of the parking spaces along Tunnel Road. Most of the 40 or so residents at the meeting were far happier with this plan, but the sticking point was the block between Oak Ridge Drive and The Uplands, where the road narrows and parking (enough room for up to 20 cars) was still eliminated in favor of the bike lane. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley resident parking fees set to rise 30%

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Berkeley City Council agreed on Tuesday night to raise the cost for the annual residential parking permit from $34.50 to $45, a 30% increase. The increase was a compromise following a recommendation from city staff that a 60% increase was necessary to cover the full costs of the Residential Preferential Parking program (RPP).

The RPP is projected to have revenues of nearly $1.6 million for the city in the 2013 fiscal year. But that barely covers the cost of parking enforcement, while the $311,000 cost of permit issuance and $105,000 cost for the transportation to administer the program results in overall losses. When the city council considered overall budget shortfalls in January, it instructed city staff to find ways to cover the RPP program losses.  … Continue reading »

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What’s happening with the Gilman Street interchange?

City staffers say that roundabouts on Gilman Street at I-80 will improve the interchange in several important ways. Image source: City of Berkeley
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Earlier this month, after Berkeleyside’s most recent article on Whole Foods coming to Gilman, several readers asked in the comments section about the status of a city project to reconfigure the intersections at Gilman and Interstate 80.

According to a city flier from last fall, the area has become “overwhelmed” due to multiple commercial venues in its vicinity, such as Golden Gate Fields racetrack, Target in Albany, residential neighborhoods in Berkeley and Albany, and major recreational spots such as the Bay Trail and the Gilman Street Fields. Stop signs on highway off-ramps cause back-ups onto the interstate. The right-of-way for motorists “is confusing, leading to conflict and collisions.”

Berkeleyside readers called the area “a ridiculous mess” and “the most dysfunctional intersection I have seen anywhere in the United States.” … Continue reading »

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On walk signal, are two buttons better than one?

Two walk signal buttons on Solano Avenue. Photo: Justin Huang
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Last week, a local resident asked Berkeleyside about this signal pole on Solano Avenue. He wondered what the purpose of the street-level “walk signal” button was. We posed the question to readers on the Berkeleyside Facebook page, and their answers ran the gamut from the serious to the silly.

Some said the bottom button is for people to kick if their hands are full, or if they don’t want to risk contact with germs. Others said perhaps seeing eye … Continue reading »

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News

Hundreds of bike crashes near UC Berkeley over 5 years

A ghost bike marks the spot where Shlomo Bentin died cycling in Berkeley. Photo: Zusha Ellison/Bay Citizen
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By Zusha Elinson / Bay Citizen 

Shlomo Bentin, a world-renown neuropsychologist, bought a bicycle last summer to commute to UC Berkeley from his home two miles away. An expert on facial recognition, the 65-year-old Israeli was on a one-year research sabbatical at the university.

“He took up biking in Berkeley because people in Berkeley bike,” said Lynn Robertson, a friend and colleague. “He was very cautious. He was the kind of bicyclist who would stop at stop signs and signal.”

On July 13, Bentin was riding home from the campus gym on Bancroft Way when he was killed. Police received reports that a dump truck might have hit Bentin west of Fulton Street. Jennifer Coats, spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police Department, said investigators are trying to determine whether the truck was a factor in the collision. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Interior of Brasa: A Peruvian Joint
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CASHIERS NO MORE Laz Parking, which operates Berkeley’s three parking facilities, is installing prepay ticket machines in all of its garages, which should help eliminate that long backup of cars waiting to get out of the Center Street garage after a play or concert. Patrons can also just use a credit card to get in and out, said Farid Javandel, manager of the City of Berkeley’s Transportation Division. Laz Parking will install the first machines March 12 on Center Street (and permanently open the second exit as well), and in the Oxford and Telegraph/Channing garages soon after. New lights, signs, and paint are on the way, too. There will no longer be any cashiers in the garages, but there will be security patrols and customer assistants, said Javandel. … Continue reading »

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