Urban streetscape improvements to connect Civic Center to BART
on October 16, 2014
A $7.7 million construction project is scheduled to break ground in the center of downtown between the BART station and the Civic Center this spring.
With a tentative March launch, the eight-month long urban streetscape will “improve the environment” along Nevin Avenue, from 19th to 27th Street, said Richmond capital projects manager, Chad Smalley. He’s been stringing together the (mostly federal grant) money for this since 2009.
“It only takes eight minutes to walk from here [the Civic Center] to BART,” he said of the poorly designed thoroughfare between two of the city’s largest investments. “But nobody does it. This will fix that.”
At about $1 million per block—or per walking minute—the “pedestrian- and bicycle-focused” project will extend the “planning palette” of the Civic Center eight blocks down: wider sidewalks, a complete urban landscape, including almost 100 new trees, sidewalk bulbouts (enlarged, rounded corners at intersections), a traffic circle, more and better crosswalks with pedestrian flashers, ground-level LED lighting to encourage foot travel at night, disability-compliant curb ramps, bike lanes, and stormwater treatment improvements.
Smalley said the “two poles of activity,” the Civic Center and BART, will finally be better connected so more people can walk and bike, instead of drive, to the transit center, one of the Bay Area’s busiest. “It’s our connection to everywhere else,” he said.
$7.7 million (of which an estimated $6.4 million is in “hard costs” of construction) is a hefty price tag. And because a high percentage is federally funded, construction jobs will not necessarily go to Richmond contractors.
“We always want to stay local in Richmond,” Smalley said. “But federal regulations require that we take the lowest bidder when doing a transportation project of this magnitude.” He hopes to start fielding bids this winter then award contracts in February.
This project, and others down the pipeline, are part of the city’s general plan to revitalize the downtown corridor, said Smalley, and create places “folks just want to be.”
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