Can a greenway transform one of the most dangerous and health-impacted corridors in the state?

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The I-880 corridor through the East Bay faces a myriad of environmental, financial, and transportation challenges. Stretching from Oakland to Hayward, the corridor is notable for frequent traffic fatalities, high asthma rates, and low levels of auto-ownership. In sum, these communities, many of them low-income, struggle with some of the worst impacts of car culture.
The Alameda County Transportation Commission hopes that the East Bay Greenway project can begin to change that.
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On Thursday, the US Department of Transportation announced a $30 million grant to build a 10.6-mile bike and pedestrian corridor connecting five BART stations from Oakland to San Leandro, administered by the Alameda County Transportation Commission.
“We’re excited to make it a community-focused, people-focused project,” said Tess Lengyel, executive director of the Alameda County Transportation Commission. “This is not a safe corridor right now.”
The $30 million provided to Alameda County is the largest DOT grant this cycle in Northern California, and the second largest in the state.
That money is intended to fund a greenway project that will include bike and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as safety improvements throughout the corridor. In a press release, the transportation commission touted the project’s impact on “economic development, safety and advancing equitable transportation.”
“Reconnecting communities that have been underinvested in will increase safety and access, and result in more equitable opportunities for people who live and work in this corridor,” said Alameda CTC Chair and Emeryville Councilmember John J. Bauters.
The first phase, which is expected to begin construction in 2025, will connect the Lake Merritt Bart station to Bayfair BART. The route follows 12th Street to the Fruitvale Bart Station, and then runs beside San Leandro Street.
Future phases of the project are intended to extend through the unincorporated community of Ashland down to South Hayward.
In order to make room for the bike and pedestrian improvements, some parking will be removed along the corridor. Lanes may also narrow.
But for those involved in the project, those are small sacrifices for a greenway that could drastically improve health outcomes in local communities.
“We’re really trying to transform this into a corridor that has safe equitable outcomes,” Lengyel said. “A lot has gone into this.”

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