UPDATE: The ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration has been rescheduled to Saturday, June 25th due to predicted heavy rain this Saturday.
People often ask me what I think of Mayor Quan. My immediate response is that it’s really too soon to judge, as I think it takes some time to find out how a mayor will govern. I also say that I’m happy she’s working much harder than our previous mayor but that I have some serious concerns about her administration, particularly her administration’s lack of transparency and disregard for open government laws. But overall, I’m keeping an open mind and hoping Mayor Quan will be a huge improvement over Mayor Dellums.
There’s one awesome project the Mayor has spearheaded that she deserves credit for and that I don’t think many people have heard of – the Mayor’s Pedestrian Access and Safety Task Force. I know, I know, our last mayor was very fond of task forces. Those task forces did some hard work and came up with some worthy proposals, and for rest of his term, those proposals sat there gathering dust. So I too was somewhat skeptical when I heard about this task force.
But after hearing the task force’s main staffer, ADA Programs Manager Christine Calabrese, speak to the Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, I’m convinced that this task force is different. Mayor Quan formed the task force after hearing at her initial town hall meetings that Oaklanders are very concerned about pedestrian safety, particularly safety for seniors and disabled people. So she decided to do something about it by forming this task force, which includes members of the Mayor’s Commission on Persons with Disabilities, Commission on Aging, and the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
The task force met once in April and will meet quarterly in the future. But guess what? They’re already producing tangible results. The task force decided to focus on improving one intersection that’s important to senior, disabled and other residents – 18th Street and Adeline in West Oakland. Many seniors and community members walk to or through this intersection to reach three major facilities on the corners – the West Oakland Senior Center, the West Oakland Public Library, and DeFremery Park.
If you’re unfamiliar with the wide intersection that often has traffic speeding through it, here’s a Google photo of what it looks like, with the senior center on the left and the park on the right:
From the press release, here’s what they’ve done to the intersection:
The City has resurfaced the streets, repaired sidewalks, installed new curb ramps, and added audible pedestrian push buttons to facilitate safe crossing. In addition, the City has rehabilitated disabled parking zones, bus stops, and other transportation amenities and added several traffic calming measures. This project draws from local, State and Federal funds earmarked for street and sidewalk rehabilitation. The total project cost was $105,000. Small local business contractors performed the work under the supervision of the Public Works Department of Engineering & Construction.
To those familiar with public works projects, you’re probably as amazed as I am that in just a couple months the task force was able to leverage funds and coordinate with staff in multiple departments to make this happen. Of course some parts of this project were likely being planned before the task force formed, but plenty of great stuff is planned in Oakland that never happens.
The hope of the task force is for the 18th Street and Adeline project to serve as a “Neighborhood Streets Safety” model for what can be done at other major intersections or other places in the city to address pedestrian priorities.
If you’re interested in seeing the results of the work at the the intersection, there’s a ribbon cutting ceremony and press conference
this Saturday on Saturday, June 25th. Here are the details: