The Ohlone Greenway between Solano and Marin avenues is slated to re-open in December, along with the section in North Berkeley. As soon as that happens, the Solano-to-Portland avenue section of the greenway will close, so BART crews can retrofit the system for earthquake safety.
The new greenway path will be striped after all of Albany is completed, and it will get three lanes, instead of two, as previously announced.
Open for business
The northern-most section of Albany’s greenway (Portland to Brighton avenues) opened in late September. Over the fall, trees and bushes were planted and sod was rolled out.
Behind the flexible orange fencing is grass seed. It’s a blend of grasses, some native, requiring less water and mowing than the sod lawns, thereby saving the city money, said Albany’s Urban Forester, Tony Wolcott.
Wolcott said the city has inspected and found a few details for the landscape contractor to fix (irrigation and non-working water fountain).
“We’re pretty close to signing off,” Wolcott said. The contractor is responsible for maintaining the landscape for one year, he said. The landscaping is paid for by BART construction funds, which came from Measure AA in 2004.
The eastern-most strip of the greenway was not BART’s responsibility to replant, and the city can add to that area later, Wolcott said.
Plans originally called for two lanes on the new, wider path, but with input from Albany Strollers & Rollers, the city has decided to create three lanes – two for bicycles and one for pedestrians.
Striping will not be done until the entire greenway in Albany is complete, to save money, said Greg Jacobs, an engineering consultant to Albany. When the city was not ready with a striping plan as soon as the path was completed, it was dropped from BART’s responsibility and is now the city’s job to pay for, Jabobs said. Although, he added, the city is asking if BART will cover part of the cost.
Next in line to open
Between Solano and Dartmouth Street, the BART retrofitting is complete, the pathway is paved, and the decomposed-granite jogging shoulders are in. Irrigation is still being installed, Wolcott said.
The Solano-to-Marin section is due to open first, and is only a week or two away from completion, Jacobs said. The catch – that work can’t happen until the rain is over.
The section from Marin to Dartmouth will open about a month later.
About 20 fruit trees will be planted on the greenway near the community center/library at Marin. (See details in earlier coverage of landscaping plans.) That area will also get sod lawn and grass seed, Wolcott said.
New closure coming
As soon as the fences come down south of Solano, they’ll be moved to the Solano-to-Portland section of the greenway and demolition will start. Trees that are directly under the tracks or in the way of construction will be cut down.
This time, the city will not create a temporary fenced-in path to replace the greenway, and parking will remain open on the east side of Masonic Avenue. The last temporary path generated a lot of complaints. Also, the senior center users didn’t want to lose parking on Masonic Avenue, Jacobs said.
Pedestrians will be directed to the sidewalk on the west side of Masonic. Bike riders can use either Masonic, which now has “sharrows” – share the road markings on the street -- or take parallel streets, Evelyn Avenue or Key Route Boulevard.
The small section of BART retrofitting in North Berkeley, on either side of Gilman Street, is now complete and the pathway there should re-open by Dec. 17, BART’s Calderon said.
That section of the path will be somewhat wider than before, but not as wide as Albany’s, and is getting jogging shoulders. Lighting under the tracks will be new, and landscaping will be planted over the coming three months, Calderon said.
El Cerrito Work
In September, BART retrofitting began in the section from Brighton in Albany, right next to Albany Middle School, up to Fairmount Avenue in El Cerrito. Middle School Principal Peter Parenti said the construction hasn't caused the school any problems, other than noise during outdoor gym classes.
“I've simply purchased a few bullhorns and the students and staff are able to proceed,” Parenti wrote to Patch.
That section should re-open in March, Calderon said.
Elsewhere in El Cerrito, the Stockton Avenue-to-Portola Drive section is slated to end in February; the Potrero Avenue-to-Hill Street section finishes in January and the section from Cutting Boulevard to the Richmond line should re-open by Dec. 17, Calderon said.
The next section of to close for retrofitting in El Cerrito will be from Manila Avenue to Potrero, which starts as soon as Potrero-to-Hill finishes in January.
Concerns about the project in Albany can be directed to the Albany’s Public Works Department at 510-524-9543 or, district-wide, to BART's project information line for Albany, 510-412-5546, or by email to earthquakesafety@BART.gov.