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 →