For the second time in three months, the Powell off-ramp of Eastbound I-80 was the scene of a collision caused by a vehicle pursuit. This time in broad daylight at about 3 p.m.. The scene was described as looking like a “Demolition Derby” with four vehicles sustaining damage and one pedestrian being struck. Meanwhile, Bike East Bay is calling for action by Caltrans to address what most E’villains know of as the most dangerous intersection in our town.
The episode began with a report of a man with a firearm playing dice near West Oakland BART and concluded at this off-ramp after a pursuit by the OPD. The gold Lexus the suspect was driving clipped at least three vehicles before t-boning a Smart Car at the Powell intersection. The collision shattered the window of the suspect’s vehicle and he immediately fled the scene on foot. “He jumped out of the car within a quarter of a second and instantly took off” noted one witness in this KPIX 5 video segment pointing toward the Powell Street Plaza shopping center.
The incident temporarily closed the Powell Street off-ramp and the suspect is still at large. Injuries sustained by two victims were reported by the CHP to be non-life threatening. In August, an early AM vehicle shooting led to a vehicle crashing into the embankment along the off-ramp.
When is Enough, Enough for Caltrans?
The intersection is known to be amongst the most dangerous in the city for bicyclists and pedestrians and Bike East Bay has advocated that measures be taken to make the safety of this intersection a priority. While clearly these measures would not have prevented the aforementioned incident, the time to act is now. In September, the Emeryville BPAC (Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee) met with Caltrans to discuss safety issues on this section that is part of the Bay Trail. An intersection that connects to the recently completed Christie Ave Bay Trail Gap.
Caltrans is resisting significant upgrades to the intersection citing data that indicates there have been few reports of vehicle/bike-ped collisions. Data that regular users of the path cannot countenance. In May, a bicyclist was badly injured while crossing this off-ramp when a driver made a right turn on red. Caltrans has a reputation of consistently being the least proactive and accountable of our government agencies. A complete plan to address the issues with the intersection are outlined in the Powell Street Urban Design Plan [PDF].
Bike East Bay is proposing three specific short-term upgrades to this crosswalk:
- Make bicyclists and pedestrians more visible by striping the crosswalk with alternate green and white paint to make it clear that this is a trail crossing, not just a regular crosswalk
- Stop drivers from entering the crosswalk when the walk signal is activated by installing electronic ‘no right turns on red’ signs
- Stop drivers from taking the off-ramp as a freeway shortcut by installing a temporary median extension in the center of Powell Street.
Bike East Bay are asking that the community to take action by compelling CalTrans to act through an email writing campaign. Supporters can help by submitting an email to Caltrans District 4 Pedestrian & Bicycle Coordinator Sergio Ruiz through the form below or submitting a hazards report on the BikeEastBay.org site.
What’s wrong with this Bay Trail crossing? It’s a freeway off-ramp
Fixing a freeway off-ramp where it crosses the Bay Trail should be a no-brainer, but not for Caltrans. We need your help to pressure Caltrans to fix the Powell Street off-ramp where it crosses a segment of this popular biking and walking path. While Caltrans cites the lack of reported bike and pedestrian crashes at this location, Bike East Bay has received reports of at least three known car on bike collisions in the past year, with at least one resulting in serious injuries.
Read More on BikeEastBay.org →
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One idea would be to replace the intersection with a large pedestrian oriented traffic circle. The on and off ramps would flow into the circle but with no direct conduit between the two. Pedestrian and bike flows would be prioritized with direct conduits through the circle. A circle would also act as natural hub integrating the gap between the expansions of Bay Street and Public Market. It might even make the hotels look a bit more in plqce; though Dennys might have to go.
ONE: they either need to make right-on-red illegal at that intersection (yeah, like that’ll work), or install lights that illuminate whenever the the crosswalk light is illuminated that tell people that there’s no right on red (of course, they have to be LOOKING…which they never do). TWO: embed flashing lights for the crosswalk. This might actually pull their heads out of their other orifice. THREE: Maybe put a brilliantly flashing light on the left side that says, “Hey, stupid, LOOK RIGHT!!!” FOUR: Spike strips deployed whenever the walk light is on. FIVE: Free rocket launchers for anyone crossing from the east side of the walk. SIX: Minigun rentals from Trader Joe’s at $20.00 for five minutes – with one 1,000-round belt of armor-piercing explosive rounds, only activated once you are at the intersection (same technology as those shopping cart disabling things). It’s been a freaking month now, and even though the police know where the idiot lives who hit me, nothing’s been done. I’m sick of this, and my knee is still buggered. Something needs to be done. NOW.
Caltran needs to install delineators to prevent vehicles from crossing traffic into the gas station via Christie from Powell. The double white lines aren’t effective and the rule breakers constantly cause backups, leaving vehicles in the middle of the intersection after the light turns red.