Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman joined with other city, county and regional representatives last Thursday for the symbolic first shovels-full-of-dirt ceremony marking the long-awaited start the State Route 84 expressway that will eventually link I-580 to I-680 along the Isabel Avenue and Vallecitos Road corridor.
The estimated $122.4 million project will first widen a 4.6-mile section of the roadway from two to six lanes from Jack London Boulevard to the Stanley Boulevard interchange and from two to four lanes south to Concannon Boulevard. In the spring of 2014, Caltrans plans to continue the widening project from Concannon to East Ruby Hill Drive just beyond Vineyard Avenue.
With the upgrade, SR-84 will reach expressway standards of 55-mile-per-hour drive speeds.
Upgrading Hwy. 84 to expressway status has long been a goal of the Pleasanton City Council and traffic planners. They see the new expressway as an attractive alternative for hundreds of commuters who now use Pleasanton streets, especially First Street, to avoid congestion at the interchange of interstates 580 and 680.
Route 84 is a critical mobility investment in the Tri-Valley", said Mark Green, mayor of Union City and chairman of the Alameda County Transportation Commission (CTC). "This is a project that has been planned and implemented in stages to deliver congestion relief, improved access and to help support community vitality."
The project is being financed in part by $16 million made available by Proposition 1B, the transportation bond and sales tax measure that was approved by voters in 2006. But completing the project to I-680 and building an interchange there may depend on voters approving Measure B3 in the upcoming Nov. 6 election, a measure that would also raise the sales tax in Alameda County to a full penny from the current half-cent tax Measure B1 authorized.
The proposition, as written in the Nov. 6 ballot, would also keep the tax in force for 20 years with its extension in 2032 subject to only a simple majority vote, not the two-thirds majority the Measure will require in the upcoming election.
The State Route 84 expressway is also integral to the reducing cut-through traffic in both Pleasanton and Livermore.
"Since the relocation of SR-84 from downtown Livermore to Isabel Avenue on the city's western edge, Livermore's city center is thriving," said Livermore Mayor John Marchand.
Pedestrians and bicyclists will also derive safety benefits from the Route 84 project. The multi-use trail between Jack London and Vineyard Avenue will be improved, closing a gap and providing a continuous 2.5-mile route for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Route 84 Expressway project will be constructed in two segments-northern and southern. The northern project segment, Concannon Boulevard to Jack London Boulevard, will be built by Bay Cities Paving & Grading Inc. under Caltrans administration and management. This section will be completed by early 2014.
Construction on the southern project segment, Ruby Hill Drive to Concannon, will begin in mid-2014 and be completed in mid- 2016. Final design, right-of-way acquisition, and utility relocation are currently underway for the south segment.
The total SR-84 Expressway project cost estimate is $122.4 million. Of that amount, almost half of the funding for the project--$59 million (49%)-is being provided by the Measure B half-cent transportation sales tax passed by Alameda County voters in 2000. The Alameda County Transportation Commission has leveraged the Measure B funding to attract external (state and local) funding to design and build the rest of the project.
Funding for the northern segment includes $16 million from the State Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA) bond funds and $23.6 million of Measure B funds. Proposed funding for the southern segment may include State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds and Tri-Valley Transportation Council funds, in addition to Measure B funds.
A 2003 Project Study Report, sponsored by the Tri-Valley Transportation Council, identified several improvement projects along the SR-84 corridor between I-680 and I-580 that could be constructed in stages as funding became available. The Tri-Valley Triangle Traffic Study, approved by the board of directors of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (now part of the county's Transportation Commission) in 2007, set priorities for projects along SR-84.
Several have now been completed. For example, the Route 84/Interstate 580 Interchange project included the construction of a new interchange at I-580, realigning SR-84 (Isabel Avenue) to connect with the new interchange, realigning and extending Portola Avenue from East Airway Boulevard to Isabel Avenue, and realigning East Airway Boulevard to conform to the new interchange configuration. Completed in April 2012, the total cost of the project was $110 million, which included $25 million in Measure B funds.
The $32 million Pigeon Pass Improvement project, completed in October 2008 by Caltrans, straightened the alignment along a 2.1-mile stretch of SR-84 west of Ruby Hill Drive, and added truck climbing lanes and other features to enhance safety on SR-84.
In an earlier project completed in 2001 and also funded by Measure B, a new two-lane roadway and grade separation at Stanley Boulevard and the Union Pacific railroad crossing was constructed along Isabel Avenue, allowing through traffic to bypass downtown Livermore. Measure B funded approximately $30 million of the total $52 million project cost.
After the SR-84 Expressway project is completed in 2016, there will be one planned project left: a gap closure project to widen SR-84 from two to four lanes between Pigeon Pass and I-680 from Pleasanton to Sunol, including the construction of a new I-680/ SR-84 Interchange.
This project is currently in the planning stage, and is contingent on obtaining adequate funding. It is included in Alameda CTC's new Transportation Expenditure Plan, which will be funded by future Alameda County transportation sales tax revenue, if approved by voters in November 2012.