City of Oakland, BART receive $6.3 million grant from US Department of Transportation

Michael Wan/Staff

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The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday a $6.3 million grant to the “Go Uptown” project — an initiative to upgrade the 19th Street BART station along with several blocks along 20th Street in Oakland.

The project is a collaboration between the city of Oakland and BART. Of the $6.3 million in funding, $4.8 million will be allocated towards the BART station itself, while $1.5 million will go toward city projects to increase accessibility to the station.

The anticipated improvements to the 19th Street BART station include the restoration of aging infrastructure and the construction of more entry points. According to a BART press release, the upgrades will also include the construction of two new glass elevators.

Additionally, the station will soon include new bike racks, new bike stairways, new fare barriers, a new paint job and a number of general repairs.

“We are very excited to win this grant because it will help us pay for these needed upgrades,” said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost in an email. “BART is entering a rebuilding phase, and there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to modernize our stations and system.”

Apart from the station itself, the city has also planned a number of improvements to the roads. Wayfinding improvements, including the implementation of new signage in a 20-block area between Lake Merritt and Broadway, will serve to orient people around downtown. The new signs will point towards major destinations, such as BART and Oakland City Hall.

Additionally, LED lighting will be installed on the streets and sidewalks along 20th Street. According to Bruce Williams, the funding program manager of the city’s Transportation Planning and Funding Division, the establishment of LED lighting is part of a longstanding initiative on the city’s part to decrease greenhouse gas and increase aesthetic appeal.

Williams revealed that the city of Oakland applied for a similar grant the previous year. Despite not receiving the funds, the city was told that the initiative was a good effort and was advised to try again the following year.

“We have a lot of work to do in our downtown streets, to make them more pedestrian-friendly in particular and also more bicycle-friendly,” Williams said.

According to Williams, the entire “Go Uptown” project is slated to be complete by the year 2020, but Williams added that it could be finished earlier — possibly by 2019. The final design will likely be settled by 2018 and construction will begin soon after.

“We are really happy to work with BART,” Williams said. “The BART stations really are a part of our city, and we really want to maximize their use and the ease with which you can get from one to the other.”

Contact Harini Shyamsundar at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.