Proposed I-80/Ashby Interchange Improvement Project Public Comment Period Opens

Published On December 23, 2021 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Transit

The public comment period has opened to weigh in on the impacts of the I-80/Ashby Interchange project. The project is being pursued to improve vehicle circulation at the intersection as well as bicycle/pedestrian access to the bay. The proposed project spans the cities of Emeryville and Berkeley and is a partnership between Caltrans and the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC).

The project is being funded through 2014 Measure BB which increased county sales tax and authorized tax bonds to pay for transportation infrastructure.

The proposed project would replace the existing elevated interchange connector ramps at Ashby with a new bridge over I-80, realign access to West Frontage Road, and create a new bicycle/pedestrian over-crossing (BPOC) from 65th & Shellmound Street to Frontage Road.

I-80/Ashby Interchange

Vice Mayor Ally Medina expressed concern over the project in a long Twitter thread that she described as a “transpo rant.” Medina was critical of the idea of a pedestrian undercrossing that would connect the pedestrian bridge to Frontage road near Point Emery.

“There are multiple large encampments nearby. If you put an underpass here it will be occupied ASAP,” she noted referring to the dire homeless conditions around Aquatic Park that the municipalities have failed to solve. Medina instead backed an at-grade crosswalk that would require pedestrians and cyclists to contend with Frontage road vehicle traffic. “Do I want peds to have to wait on cars? Obvs not.”

“There are multiple large encampments nearby. If you put an underpass here it will be occupied ASAP,”
— Vice Mayor Ally Medina

ACTC also noted that drainage improvements to Ashby would be included in the project but “limited to within the project impact area” that borders the western side of the railroad tracks. The connecting Ashby underpass that goes under the UPRR tracks is prone to frequent, seasonal flooding.

Some have decried the project as a “bridge to nowhere” and that a pedestrian over-crossing closer to the Powell Street exit would be preferred and prioritized. Such a connection would connect employees and residents of the Emeryville Peninsula to the ample amenities on the east side of I-80.

This idea would also better connect the Bay Trail to the Bay Bridge trail that goes all the way to Treasure Island (and hopefully one day all the way to San Francisco).

Previous attempts to create momentum for an over-crossing near Powell have not panned out. A 2007 proposal received support from most but backlash from commuters as it would have come at the expense of the I-80 on-ramp that is a well-regarded shortcut into the city. Without sufficient political backing and funding, the project slowly faded into memory.

Graphic: SF Chronicle (2007).

The ACTC document includes renderings of three separate design options for the bridge including a butterfly arch, box girder and Basket handle designs.

The pros and cons of three options are distinguished by maintenance costs, structural support and “design consistency” (cost estimates for the options were not provided).

The draft environmental document is available for public comment through Jan. 31 at the project website, emailed to comments@I80Ashby.com or by calling (510) 800-8924. The 45-day public comment period closes on January 31, 2022.

The ACTC will host a virtual public open house on Tuesday, January 11 with a presentation, panel discussion and open Q&A.

If the project stays on schedule, it is projected to start construction in 2024 and finish in late 2026.

Download the entire 394 page Draft Environmental Document through AlamedaCTC.org [PDF]

Additional information about the project can be viewed on the AlamedaCTC website.

Virtual Public Open House

When: Jan. 11, 2022 @ 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Link to Join: I80ashby.com
Dial in: 888-344-3561

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

5 Responses to Proposed I-80/Ashby Interchange Improvement Project Public Comment Period Opens

  1. Anonymous says:

    Apparently our local leaders have completely given up on actually solving the problem and are instead turning to anti-homeless design.

    • Steve says:

      Please share evidence to qualify your statement.

      At the moment Emeryville is unable to do anything. They’ve already invested multiple years of social support services, rehousing and cleanup. All attempts at rehousing have been met with activist lawyers supporting the occupation and making unreasonable demands. All the while the surrounding area is vandalized and habitat is destroyed.

      Its incredible that a handful of people are allowed to hold a neighborhood to ransom.

  2. Steve says:

    If new public infrastructure will lead to increased homeless encampments, why would any local business or resident support that? Emeryville is unable to do anything about this patch of land. Medina has a very good point.

    There should be zero infrastructure projects until the homeless situation is resolved.

    The corner of Ashby/Shellmound is already a disgrace for Newsom/Berkeley. I’m furious that he flew in for a photo op of the Berkeley camp cleanup only to learn those same people just relocated half a mile down the road and created an even larger dumpsite than before.

    Today anyone that wants to get over to the bay trail goes past the Shellmound encampment, through the park and over the bridge. It would make better sense to create a PED structure at Powell that cuts through all the traffic.

  3. Anonymous says:

    At least one progressive politician is willing to admit “our policies suck and we’re in over our head.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Caltrans is an easy scapegoat but they don’t draft homeless policy. Medina and her ilk do. Way to pass the buck “leader”!

Leave a Reply