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In September 2014, representatives from the City of Oakland (“the City”) and the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (“BART”) approached the CP 218 Transportation Studio with questions about travel behavior and the transportation network in and around the MacArthur BART Station in Oakland, California (Figure 1). In search of data to support the proposed Complete Streets Plan for Telegraph Avenue, the City was particularly interested in travel patterns generated by commercial activity in the Temescal Commercial District (“Temescal”). Meanwhile, BART was broadly interested in promoting urban densities that would support transit, in addition to the impacts of a new transit-oriented development adjacent to the MacArthur BART Station.
With these prompts, our studio team quickly concluded that these concerns were interesting, but ultimately too narrow in scope given the magnitude of changes coming to the MacArthur area. After some exploratory analysis, we found that market and regulatory forces at regional and local levels have converged in the MacArthur area to create the conflicts and opportunities presented by urban infill growth:
• The MacArthur BART area has been promoted by regional authorities as an ideal location for new growth based on its ability b to serve new residents by transit. This designation is formalized as a Priority Development Area (“PDA”) in the region’s state- mandated plan for growth through 2040, “Plan Bay Area.”
• A new transit-oriented development, MacArthur Station, adjacent to the MacArthur BART Station, is expected to bring more than 1,000 new residents to the area over the next decade (a 17% increase).
• The real estate market in this area has recovered from the recession and begun to appreciate significantly, driving up rents and threatening potential displacement of existing residents.
• In 2015, the City of Oakland will repave and reconfigure a stretch of Telegraph Avenue that runs adjacent to the MacArthur BART Station. The City’s Complete Streets Plan will reduce travel lanes to make room for new bike lanes, which merchants in Temescal have opposed, fearing adverse impacts on auto travel and shoppers’ accessibility to the district.
Considering this context, we found ourselves wondering, how do we improve the transportation network a) to serve existing and anticipated residents and businesses and b) to create a pleasant, efficient, and safe multimodal neighborhood and corridor? Implicit in these guiding questions about the role of a transportation network were the narrower questions about travel patterns, population density, and potential impacts of the proposed Complete Streets Plan.