Shattuck Avenue crossing University Avenue will become a two-way street, instead of the current two separate one-way streets, to alleviate traffic and improve safety for pedestrians, according to Stefan Elgstrand, spokesperson for Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín.
This street conversion is part of a larger $10.3 million reconfiguration project in Downtown Berkeley. Elgstrand added that the change on Shattuck Avenue will go into effect next week.
The complete reconstruction — including a new bus terminal that merges several bus stops and eases bus transfers to the Downtown Berkeley BART station — is expected to be completed by mid-2020, according to a city press release.
“The goal is to make Downtown more accessible, whether you drive, use public transit or walk,” Elgstrand said.
The current configuration involves several different left turns that slow traffic and pose a threat to pedestrians, while the new configuration reduces these conflicts, according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.
The west side of Shattuck Avenue will be converted into a two-way street, while the east side will be closed off, according to Elgstrand. The two eastern blocks will be renamed with suggestions from community members.
“The Public Works Commission … will narrow down the list,” Elgstrand said. “Berkeley Considers, the city’s online forum, will give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the finalists.”
Elgstrand added that a final vote for the street name will then occur during a City Council meeting in February 2020.
The change also includes a more visible elevated area for pedestrian crossing, making it easier for pedestrians to walk across the street safely, according to Chakko. With this change, a car is estimated to save about 25 seconds on commute time in northbound traffic.
“During construction in the short term, there’s obviously going to be some delays and noise involved in making these improvements,” Chakko said. “But it should make for better streets in the long term.”