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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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