The California Transportation Commission approved on Wednesday a $30.2 million Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP) grant for the City of Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) to deliver long-anticipated improvements to the Embarcadero West Rail Corridor located in the Jack London Square District of Oakland.
The grant is one of the largest infrastructure grants to be awarded to OakDOT and is a critical piece of funding for a transformative investment along the Embarcadero West corridor, addressing long-standing local and regional transportation needs. The improvements will benefit residents, workers, and visitors at Jack London Square, improve access to the Oakland ferry terminal, and make both passenger and freight rail safer and more reliable for all of Northern California. An additional grant application to the federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program ($43.3 million) is currently pending for the project and would facilitate additional needed safety upgrades to the corridor.
“On behalf of the City of Oakland, I want to the thank the California Transportation Commission for funding this critical investment in Oakland,” said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. “The City and Port of Oakland are working collaboratively to realize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make transformative changes to the streets that serve the Port and the surrounding communities. Once completed, the project will make it safer to walk, bike, drive and ride the train to and through Jack London Square. While I’m most excited for the local benefit, the efficiencies gained will benefit all of Northern California.”
The Embarcadero West Rail Safety and Access Improvements will enhance safety and reliability on this critical rail corridor serving the Bay Area’s largest port: the Port of Oakland, and regional and long-distance passenger rail lines. The project will provide significant safety improvements to one of the most complex transportation environments along the 130-mile Capitol Corridor route from San Jose to Sacramento (Capitol Corridor Vision Implementation Plan, 2016). According to Amtrak incident data from 2019-2022, over a quarter of all Capitol Corridor grade crossing vehicle incidents are concentrated along this just one-mile segment of Embarcadero West.
“Jack London Square in Oakland is where we face some of the greatest delays along our corridor caused by conflicts with vehicles and people, sometimes on an almost daily basis,” said Capitol Corridor Managing Director Robert Padgette. “This grant and the projects it supports will make getting to and from Oakland safer, easier to navigate, and more reliable for our riders and for the people who live, work, shop, eat, and come to Jack London Square to enjoy the waterfront.”
The TCEP grant will fund a portion of the broader Embarcadero West Rail Safety and Access Improvements, which extend from Market St to Oak St. TCEP will fund the reconstruction of three at-grade crossings, fencing, and pedestrian and bicycle path on Embarcadero West from Martin Luther King Jr. Way to Washington Street (see rendering of proposed improvements). The project will also construct a new heavy container permitted truck route between Middle Harbor Road and Embarcadero West serving the Port of Oakland, relocating the current route, which traverses the West Oakland community, and helping to improve air quality and reduce associated community impacts. The project includes new traffic signals, street lighting, trees, and a fully ADA-accessible corridor, improving multi-modal safety and accessibility. If awarded, the CRISI grant will continue the project to the Oak Street intersection to address the complete Embarcadero West corridor through Jack London Square. The City expects to release a request for proposals for consultant design support for the project in late July 2023. Construction is anticipated to start in approximately 2027.
The Embarcadero West Rail Safety and Access Improvements are part of a broader suite of projects to strengthen connections between West Oakland, Chinatown, Downtown, Old Oakland, and the Jack London District, while enhancing goods movement around the Port of Oakland and safety for all road users. Collectively, the City and Port have identified $407.6 million for projects that address multi-modal safety and health issues, enhance goods movement, and implement longstanding transportation plans to overcome challenges that have vexed neighboring communities and the Port’s economy for years.
“This is a significant partnership between the Port of Oakland and the City of Oakland,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “This funding will support building safer and improved access for the public to the Oakland waterfront. It will also help create greater goods movement operational efficiencies through Oakland along the freight corridor.”