City of Berkeley releases list of 34 proposed infrastructure improvement projects

Valerie Tan/Staff

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The city of Berkeley released a list of 34 proposals to be funded through Measure T1, which passed overwhelmingly in November.

The measure permits the city to sell $100 million worth of general obligation bonds to rebuild and restore the city’s infrastructure. The proposed sites include aging streets, parks, storm drains, senior and recreation centers and other crucial structures and facilities, some of which have been overlooked for decades.

According to the city’s report, the proposed program will have three phases over the course of 12 years to “minimize disruption” while facilities are being restored. Phase one will include a distribution of $32 million between 2018 and 2021. This first phase will be the most crucial, according to Susan McKay, chair of the Parks and Waterfront Commission.

The criteria for the projects proposed prioritize safety and also include expanding equity, critical infrastructure and environmental sustainability.

“Oftentimes, cities, counties and states have projects in line before the bond passes,” McKay said. “(This measure is unique in that) we just have the money, we don’t have the projects picked out. … It’s going to take a little massaging and going to take a lot of work to put it together.”

According to the proposal, the biggest recipients would be the senior centers and community centers, which would receive $12.6 million to improve one community center and one senior center during the first phase. Citywide street improvement projects account for $5.5 million of the proposed funding.

Last October, a report by the Berkeley Department Public Works and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront detailed that $500 million was needed to fix Berkeley’s infrastructure.

“T1 is the first step in trying to fix up Berkeley’s decaying infrastructure,” said former City Council member Gordon Wozniak, who was involved in formulating the measure and the election campaign.

A proposed $250,000 would go to the Aquatic Park, where three of five existing tide tubes have failed, causing problems with flooding. This money would go toward creating the final design and obtaining environmental documents and permits for construction.

These are preliminary steps to start fixing the problems with flooding in West Berkeley, but they must be expanded upon, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

“(T1 funding for the Aquatic Park is) a good first step, but we need to figure out what’s our plan to actually do something about it,” Worthington said.  

Worthington added that the report is a preliminary draft and that public input is needed in order to move forward.

The proposal will now go through a process that McKay said is a way to “funnel” comments from the general public. She urged the Berkeley community to research the measure and proposal online and to attend the public meetings expected to be held in March.

“People will be excited about how our city will improve,” McKay said.

Contact Ahna Straube at [email protected].

An infographic accompanying a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Berkeley Pier and Aquatic Park projects would be fully functional after Phase 1 of the projects. In fact, the proposed funding for Phase 1 would cover only the planning and design stages of the projects.