City begins repaving roads using Measure T1 funds

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Deborah Chen/Staff

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Since Measure T1 — a plan to improve Berkeley’s infrastructure — passed in November, the city has begun repaving its roads, with future plans to renovate senior and recreation centers, parks, sidewalks, storm drains and streets. Currently, sections of some of Berkeley’s main roads are under construction.

Measure T1 enables Berkeley to sell $100 million of general obligation bonds to replace or renovate infrastructure. There are 34 proposed projects, set to take place in three phases over a span of 12 years. The criteria used to determine T1’s projects are “prioritizing safety improvements, addressing critical infrastructure needs … improving preparedness, and leveraging funding,” according to a Measure T1 joint commission report from the city Public Works Commission and Parks and Waterfront Commission.

According to the proposal, the senior and community centers will receive $12.6 million — the largest sum of money in the plan — during the first phase of the projects.

Former District 8 councilmember Gordon Wozniak said the senior and recreation centers “are older buildings (so) they have some seismic issues.” The senior centers will receive seismic upgrades according to Wozniak. He added that the city also wants to outfit the centers for potential use as shelters if there is a major emergency.

The street improvement projects will take up to $5.5 million of the funding. The Street Repair Plan lists 55 streets that will be under construction in 2017, with 27 more to come in 2018. But the plan is “subject to change due to conflicting construction work, budgetary constraints, and unforeseen circumstances.”

Renovations to some of Berkeley’s most traffic-heavy streets began in 2016 and will end in 2018.

There is “a major repaving going on, and at the same time they are installing a bike way, to make it safer for bikes and smoother for buses,” according to City Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

The construction, however, will also be “loud and dusty for a week or two,” Worthington added. Much of the work is directly in front of many local businesses in the area, including Cafe Blue Door and Northside Cafe — both of which remain open despite the commotion.

Lupita Santillano, an employee at Cafe Blue Door on Bancroft Way, said construction will end next week and that “the noise is bothersome, but everything is the same.”

Bancroft Way is being repaved and reconstructed, but not all of the repaired roads will be completed repaved because each street is in a different condition, according to Worthington.

Worthington also explained that the specific process to decide the road’s re-pavement. “(It) depends on the (street’s) condition — it used to be done by political decisions, now we have a technical system that evaluates each street…now (it’s) done a much more professional way,” Worthington said.

“(The roads will be) better for pedestrians, better for bikes, better for buses (and) better for everyone,” Worthington said.

Contact Maya Ng-Yu at [email protected]