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More Construction Delays Along Greenway

Officials explain why paving a path on the Ohlone Greenway and painting sharrows on Masonic Avenue are behind schedule. Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we post a new story about the BART path.

In June, Albany Patch reported that, according to officials, by early July would be paved and that would be installed nearby.

Neither project is finished, so city of Albany engineering contractor Greg Jacobs explained the delays to us last week.

Between Brighton and Portland avenues, BART retrofitting was completed several months ago. Paving the greenway path should have followed, but the use of an edging material—not part of the original plans—. The edging boards are installed to make a clean separation between the asphalt path and the decomposed granite jogging shoulder, and between the shoulder and the landscaping.

In early June, the cost of edging boards had just been approved, and work appeared to be moving forward.

The delay since then has involved what type of edging material to use, Jacobs said. The city wanted to use a recycled plastic material, but a test section revealed that it warped in hot weather, and could melt next to hot asphalt. 

The contractor then suggested a metal edging material, which the city rejected. The concern was that the metal edge, if exposed, could be a safety hazard.

The final solution appears to be pressure-treated wood held in place with wood stakes: "The old-fashioned way," Jacobs said, adding that he’s viewed a test section and given his OK to continue, and work is underway.

Still, "paving won’t start until August" under the current schedule, Jacobs said. The Solano-to-Dartmouth portion of the path, where the according to BART’s Jason McLean, will be paved at the same time as the section further north. 

Striping

And after paving, the asphalt has to sit for a week or two before striping can be done, Jacobs said.

He said the plan is to stripe the 14-foot-wide path down the middle, for northbound and southbound traffic, with no separate lanes for bikes and pedestrians.

The , an advocacy group, has requested three lanes. “One each direction for people cycling and one for people walking,” described member Preston Jordan. “This is the configuration of the Bay Trail south of University, which seems to work much better than the more standard no-stripe or single-stripe-down-the-middle approach.”

Jacobs said traffic engineers designed the two-lane plan.

Sharrows

Also behind schedule is the installation of sharrows, the “share-the-road” pictures of a bike and two arrows, painted on the street. Many cyclists displaced from the greenway path now use Masonic Avenue, rather than the temporary path, so Albany Strollers & Rollers requested sharrows last fall, for safety.

Community Development Director Jeff Bond blamed low staffing for the delay.  Jacobs added he had misunderstood the order of work being requested on Masonic. But Jacobs said he now has a striping contractor who will paint the sharrows in the next two weeks, over several days.

Temporary paths

Jacobs also reported that, when the next section of the greenway closes for BART retrofitting—from Solano to Portland—the same kind of temporary path used elsewhere on Masonic will be installed: a fenced-off section on the east side of the street, in the parking lane. The next temporary path will be signed for pedestrian use only, Jacobs said, leaving bikes to use Masonic.

Quite a few cyclists initially complained about the temporary path being too narrow, among other problems, but Albany Strollers & Rollers now supports a fenced-in path as being the best temporary solution for both cyclists and pedestrians. However, Jordan said, “We would be opposed to it (the temporary path) being off-limits to bikes.”

Learning curve

Overall, the BART retrofitting project in Albany has gone “pretty smoothly,” said BART’s Jason McLean. Albany sites were among the first retrofitting sites of the project from North Berkeley to Richmond.

“The first couple groups take a long time,” McLean said, acknowledging the delays.

Also, the local work is more complicated than other projects in the BART system, he said, because of the need to restore the greenway underneath the tracks, with landscaping and paving issues to be ironed out. McLean said future sections should progress more quickly.

Concerns about the BART project can be directed to the city's Public Works Department at 510-524-9543 or to BART's project information line for Albany, 510-412-5546, or by email to earthquakesafety@BART.gov.

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we post a new story about the BART seismic work.

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

Michael Barnes July 18, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Alan, Good point. I still bump into David, and I would have remembered any comments from him. None in 10 years.
lubov mazur July 18, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Would anyone like to weigh in with a plan to make the fenced-in path for cyclists only and direct peds to the west sidewalk as is done in many construction projects?
Amy Smolens July 18, 2012 at 04:46 AM
To anyone's knowledge, have any users suggested that the fenced-in path be for peds only, as Greg Jacobs said will be happening? And whom did Jacobs consult before determining that he would "stripe the 14-foot-wide path (the new Ohlone Greenway) down the middle, for northbound and southbound traffic, with no separate lanes for bikes and pedestrians?" I feel comfortable saying that no users - cyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users, skateboarders, dog-walkers, or stroller pushers - think that configuration is a safe one.
doris July 18, 2012 at 06:42 PM
yes, Michael, I have had and have now no issues with the middle school, I welcomed it from the beginning. I remember a neighborhood petitions circulating when the school was in its planning stages, asking the neighbors to vote against it. I did not and would not now. I think it's a great addition to the neighborhood and I'm glad to have it near me. It served my children well and Albany needed it. However, that is not to say that there aren't inconveniences associated with its proximity. Parking is the main issue, especially at beginning and end of school, it can be a nightmare for those of us who live there. But we've borne this for about 14 years, no problem. However, when a public project once again adds further inconvenience and when we then find out that this project was ill conceived, is ill managed and that no one seems to give a damn, that's quite another matter. I am wondering why those who are running this projects so badly and without care for the public welfare are allowed to keep their cushy, well paid job, especially during a time when many capable people are unemployed.
Michael Barnes July 18, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Doris, thanks for the reply. I totally agree that traffic and parking at beginning and end of school day is inexcusable. Parents mistakenly think that it is safer to drive their kids to school than to have them walk. The resulting traffic jam, with students running between cars to get to class, is actually the most dangerous time of their day.
Amy Smolens July 18, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Doris and Michael, your experiences are more of a reason to have clearly separated and marked lanes for cyclists and pedestrians. If more kids are walking to school, they will be using the path. If the path is safer, more kids will be walking to school. If there are no lanes marked, they and others will be wandering around the path and everyone will be getting in each other's way. We wouldn't find this acceptable on a road (peds and motor vehicles mixing) and it certainly wouldn't be safe and encourage people to walk, so why should mixing peds and cyclists be accepted as a safe alternative? Please send a note to the City at cityhall@albanyca.org in support of the three lane option. Thanks.
Zack M. July 18, 2012 at 09:13 PM
All the more reason that we should get the Greenway finished again and make sure the pavement finishing in the form of striping is done correctly! There would be no problem with parking if kids were just walking or biking to school!
Alex Molochko July 18, 2012 at 09:26 PM
I'm firmly of the opinion that it doesn't matter what BART/the city does, idiot people will still try to get themselves/me killed along Ohlone. It's not like anybody currently follows the recommended (and obviously safest) method of behavior - bike on the bike lanes and walk on the walking path. I bike from Washington to EC Plaza and back daily, and 75% of pedestrians on Ohlone walk on the bike path - either right down the middle or weaving unpredictably back and forth. Even joggers, who should know better, seem to prefer putting themselves/me in harm's way to jogging on the dirt trail next to the bike path. Given that there's already a perfectly good walking path in addition to several feet of space (in most cases) on the west side of the paved bike path that pedestrians choose not to take advantage of, I can't see that any decisions made by the city will have any impact going forward - short of citing & fining citizens who fail to abide by the "bikes on the bike path, peds on the ped path" guideline. Which, notwithstanding that it's a total pipe dream, if any candidate for city council were to advocate, I would campaign tirelessly and aggressively for that candidate.
Tod Abbott July 19, 2012 at 04:01 AM
I agree completely. There should be three lanes, with one marked VERY CLEARLY for pedestrian use. Fortunately, paint is cheap -- though I suppose the labor to lay it down is not.
Tod Abbott July 19, 2012 at 04:09 AM
It's no secret that the reason pedestrians prefer the current bike paths is because the bike paths are much more direct than the rather picturesque (if that word can be used for a cracked strip of asphalt) pedestrian path. If we want pedestrians to stay off the bike path, we have to make the pedestrian path more attractive to them than the bike path. Maybe offering a smoother surface for baby strollers on the pedestrian path would help.
Michael Barnes July 19, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Amy, This conversation brings to mind the time I took my son, then in elementary school, to Italy one summer. I made the mistake of buying him a gameboy for the airplane. He learned to negotiate ancient Roman cobblestone streets by feeling his way with his toes while simultaneously playing gameboy and never looking up. Except for fragola gellato. Will a bunch of young kids really respect painted lines on a path as they jostle they way to school while playing games and texting and talking to their friends all at the same time? I hope so, but kids have a way of not following directions, even when they are in their own interest. Still, I think it's a good idea. Better than mixing bikers and walkers.
Amy Smolens July 19, 2012 at 07:35 PM
@Tod and Michael. Thanks for your thoughts on this issue. The current ped path is on an area that is full of tree roots. Due to that and for other reasons that I won't go into here, the current ped path will NOT be improved. So the current conditions will remain, unsuitable for many, and it will continue to be ignored by most pedestrians. Given that, the new, wider Ohlone Greenway will be used by both cyclists and peds. Sure Michael, some users may not respect the lanes. But many will. And the only way we can all hope for safe travels by wheels and by foot is if there ARE separate lanes clearly delineated and signs. During rush hour if there is a constant stream of cyclists riding to work or BART, peds may realize that is safer to walk between the lines. Telling ped and cycling traffic to mix is asking for accidents. We wouldn't do this on sidewalks, why would we do that here?
Alex Molochko July 19, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Great point Tod. In that case, I guess I'm doing my part to even up the relative appeal of the two path options by screaming obscenities at peds on the bike path as I whizz by... (kidding)
McGill July 19, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I want to endorse the concerns of the Albany Roller & Stroller members. Having two lanes for each direction of bicycle traffic and a distinct lane for pedestrian is a public safety issue. I have seen many pedestrians walk on the center bike lane and this has caused bicyclists to maneuver around them. Remarkably there are few reported bicycle-pedestrians incidents. Although the ideal solution is for pedestrians to use the walkway, pragmatically we know that most pedestrians use the bike lane for brevity; because of this fact I hope the City and BART reconsider their decision to only have two lanes.
Zack M. July 21, 2012 at 04:28 AM
At long last, sharrows are finally on the ground on Masonic! Photo of one of the new additions has been added.
Zack M. July 23, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Doing an informal count along the stretch of Bay Trail that has been mentioned as an example of a nearby mixed-use path with three lanes gave the following results: 44 of 50 users were using the intended lanes. The only exceptions were four cyclists who were riding side-by-side with a friend and two dog walkers. So given three lanes, it really seems that people use them and there's safe separation between cyclists and pedestrians (especially when the pedestrian lane is next to the gravel shoulder, as should be the case on the new greenway path). A similar count on an open stretch of the Greenway showed that: 16 of 25 users were in the intended lanes. Most pedestrians use what is intended to be the bike path. This argues strongly for striping the new pathway with three, not two lanes, since the above count suggests that the majority of people will use the lanes as intended when they are provided.
Mary Flaherty July 24, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Zack and Amy, Thank you for adding these photos to the story.
Mary Flaherty July 24, 2012 at 04:08 PM
There are some great, informative comments here, but city staff is not required to read this. Please, if you haven't already, send feedback to Albany's Community Development Director, Jeff Bond at jbond@albanyca.org.
Amy Smolens July 24, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Yes - Tod, McGill, Alex, Michael and any others reading this article, please write to Jeff Bond at jbond@albanyca.org with your thoughts on why you favor the three lane configuration and ask him to send your letter to the Traffic & Safety Commissioners before the meeting. Thanks so much.
Theresa Bittner August 16, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Does anyone know where I can see a master plan of proposed new Greenway? I keep looking, but... thanks
Mary Flaherty August 16, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Theresa, I just sent your question to Albany's urban forester, Tony Wolcott. If you're interested in landscaping, you can read more here: http://albany.patch.com/articles/ohlone-greenway-replanting-starts-in-february
Wayne Wolcott August 17, 2012 at 03:52 PM
There exists an established landscape plan for the Ohlone Trail under the BART tracks. These plans refer to Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito and Richmond. The document is over a thousand pages and includes irrigation, demo, construction plans as well. This does not include specifications - that is another document. The BART office on Potrero Avenue has the plans plastered in consecutive order on the walls of several rooms. I have received questions about the plans, and have shown the plans to various people. The crabapples are being replaced in some areas, close to Masonic, not under the tracks themselves. I can answer specisfic questions about what is going in. I cannot change the plans at this late date.
doris August 17, 2012 at 06:46 PM
ONLY ONE QUESTION: WHEN, OH WHEN WILL THIS PROJECT BE DONE? Who on earth is responsible for these delays? Simple mind boggling. Does this person still have his/her job?
Mary Flaherty August 17, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Doris, As of about a week ago, i was told the pathway paving was scheduled for next week -- the week of Aug. 20. So we'll see. Keep in mind, that while the section from Brighton to Portland is behind schedule, the longer section (Solano to Dartmouth) was scheduled to last through September 2012 from the start.
Tatter Salad August 17, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Recycled plastic material melting? I think not. Lying on the north end of Albany Beach are two recycled plastic railroad ties. How can they possibly be making railroad ties, which, (in their 'blackness' appear to be wood) out of recycled plastic, which has survived on our beach for the past 4 years!
Mary Flaherty August 17, 2012 at 07:17 PM
theresa, see Tony's comment, fourth from the top here. (Under Wayne Wolctt.)
Mary Flaherty August 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
From the story above: "it warped in hot weather, and could melt next to hot asphalt. " The header-board merely warped in hot weather, but the concern was it would melt when hot asphalt was poured next to it, during installation. That is to say, not sun-heated asphalt, but liquid asphalt.
doris August 17, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Yes, Mary, that section is indeed " behind schedule" and in a big way, months and months behind schedule.
Tatter Salad October 21, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Tod, Regarding three lanes painted on the 'Green Way' ( "There should be three lanes, with one marked VERY CLEARLY for pedestrian use.)" Do you ever commute by bicycle? You too easily are painting a recipe for disaster. I can see the 6-year olds, and ladies on aluminum walkers carefully walking in their lanes, next to the 25 mph bicycle lane! What have you been smoking?!
Karen McKeown November 30, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Mary--Please note that that section that was due in September is now supposed to open in December. Those of us who live across the street have been asking Doris' question for the past several months.

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