Citizens vs Caltrans Suit Wins Berkeley Road Improvements

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday February 03, 2009 - 05:00:00 PM

Caltrans will fund $2 million in improvements to Highway 13 in Berkeley as part of the settlement of a lawsuit by civic activists challenging the state’s plans to drill a fourth bore for the Caldecott Tunnel. 

That sum doesn’t include $750,000 Caltrans had already committed to the city street improvements. 

The agreement, signed by Caltrans Jan. 23, is the second pact signed by the state transportation department to compensate for impacts of the tunnel project. 

An agreement with Oakland was signed last June under threat of a lawsuit, giving that city $8 million in mitigation projects to offset project impacts. 

Highway 13, known for the greatest part of its course through the city as Ashby Avenue, turns into Tunnel Road east of Claremont Avenue. The highway carries traffic to and from the city, intersecting with Highway 24 not far from the tunnel. 

The Berkeley funds are to be spent on traffic signals and signal timing, and for improvements that make the road safer for cyclists and pedestrians, according to the 11-page agreement filed with the court of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch. 

According to the agreement, “[p]rojects will be selected by the City of Berkeley,” with the approval of the Fourth Bore Coalition (FBC) and subject to final approval by Caltrans based on safety and feasibility. 

The FBC is an alliance of the Berkeley Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, East Bay Bicycle Coalition. Friends of Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt, North Hills Phoenix Association, Parkwoods Community Association and the Rockridge Community Planning Council. 

FBC chair Ann Smulka signed the agreement, as did FBC attorney Stuart Flashman, Caltrans Director Will Kempton and Janet Wong, the agency’s lawyer.