Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Caltrans Begins Repaving Deteriorated Ramps In North Oakland

At the beginning of this year, we reported that Caltrans had allowed several of its on-ramps and off-ramps in North Oakland to significantly deteriorate to the point of creating safety hazards as well as a very, very bumpy ride for motorists and commuters. These ramps included the southbound on-ramp at MLK and 52nd St. to Highway 24 and the northbound off-ramp from Highway 24 to MLK and 52nd St.. Surprisingly, these ramps were not resurfaced when Highway 24 was resurfaced several years ago. In addition to pointing out the terrible pavement conditions and significant potholes, we noted other deplorable conditions such as graffiti, dead landscaping, overgrown landscaping, litter, and homeless encampments in the Caltrans right-of-way that are contributing to blight in North Oakland. In February, Caltrans came out and removed overgrown vegetation from some, but not all, of its right-of-way and promised that the repaving work would occur this summer.

True to their word, Caltrans has begun to repave portions of the ramps. Grinding has started on both the northbound off-ramp and southbound on-ramp at MLK and 52nd St. It appears Caltrans is also beginning to stage the work for the southbound on-ramp at MLK and 52nd St. While we are not happy with the ongoing conditions in the Caltrans right-of-way and believe Caltrans needs to demonstrate a greater leadership role in graffiti control, landscape improvement and maintenance and litter containment, we are happy to see them finally resolving the deteriorated pavement issue. We would like to think our reporting on these issues and our inquiries to former Director, Will Kempton, played a role in getting the Oakland District Office moving on the pavement job.

If more residents felt empowered to take action and lobby government officials and elected legislators, perhaps we could get better service and infrastructure improvements in North Oakland and South Berkeley. The City of Oakland sued Caltrans because of the lack of maintenance in its right-of-way within the Oakland City limits. Caltrans and Oakland signed a Letter of Understanding in 2005 after the lawsuit in which Caltrans agreed to some minimum maintenance standards. Since then Caltrans and the Oakland Department of Public Works have met monthly to discuss maintenance issues. With this process in place you can let Caltrans and the City of Oakland know your concerns regarding the Caltrans right-of-way and maintenance.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the maintenance of Caltrans right-of-way in the City of Oakland please contact Jocelyn Combs, City of Oakland, Public Works Agency at 510-615-5583 or jcombs@oaklandnet.com. You can also contact the Caltrans, District 4, Deputy District Director for Maintenance, Nader Eshghipour, at 510-286-5893 nader_eshghipour@dot.ca.gov or Mike Marcum, Caltrans, East Bay Regional Manager for Maintenance, at 510-614-5942 mike_marcum@dot.ca.gov.

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