Berkeley to begin renovation project intended to ease traffic Downtown

Ariel Lung/Staff

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Coming after the recent renovation of the Downtown Berkeley BART station plaza, Berkeley will begin a $10.3 million reconfiguration project on Shattuck Avenue in February intended to make the Downtown area friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists.

The project, scheduled to be completed by late 2020, will focus on converting the southbound part of Shattuck Avenue between Center Street and University Avenue into a two-way street to ease northbound congestion. In the process of reconstructing the area, six different left turns that slow traffic and pose hazards to pedestrians will also be closed.

“We need to design streets for all people who use them. It’s not just for cars,” said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko. “We focus on all of these different elements to make sure we accommodate all the different ways people move in Berkeley.”

According to a city press release, pedestrians will experience increased dust and noise in the area during construction but will ultimately benefit from improved public spaces, including curb extensions, widened sidewalks, landscaping, a raised intersection at Center Street and safer crossings.

Until the project’s completion, drivers will likely need to divert to alternative routes, including Sacramento Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Motorcyclists will likely have to navigate narrower streets during construction. Chakko added that drivers may experience lane closures and other interferences if they try to pass through the construction area.

For now, the AC Transit bus lines will remain unaltered, according to AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles. But part of the reconstruction involves consolidating all AC Transit bus stops into one main stop adjacent to the BART station to improve access to AC buses while also easing transfers. In 2020, the AC Transit stop between Center Street and Allston Way will also be moved one block south.

“This reconfiguration will help make it easier to move through and around downtown in a safer way,” said City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley in the press release. “When it’s done, it will help set the stage for an even more vibrant downtown.”

Contact Mallika Seshadri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.