By Tim Hunt
Should big rigs be allowed on I-580 through Oakland?Uploaded: Dec 16, 2021
Supervisor Nate Miley will conduct an important public meeting by Zoom this evening.
It will focus on tractor-trailer traffic on Interstates 580 and 880. The big rigs have been confined to I-880 for the many decades since I-580 opened and ran through their neighborhoods in San Leandro and Oakland. The ban was enacted in 1963 while the freeway was under construction and took traffic off surface streets in the area. It was supposed to sunset in 1968, but continues to his day.
The 6:30 p.m. virtual meeting includes presentations from CalTrans and the Bay Area Air Quality Control District. Underlying the hearing is the valid concern that people living in neighborhoods along I-880 are negatively impacted by the truck exhaust.
A study by the Environmental Defense Fund reported that I-880 neighborhoods had 80% higher concentrations of black carbon, 60% higher nitrogen dioxide concentrations and twice the concentration of nitric oxide, all pollutants that can affect health. Miley reported higher asthma rates in those neighborhoods.
Residential neighborhoods in West Oakland are impacted by the truck traffic serving the Port of Oakland as well as the freeway that runs through it. As the port has gotten busier over the years, traffic has steadily increased. When I-880 was rebuilt after the 1989 earthquake that collapsed the Cypress Structure, it brought the truck traffic closer to the neighborhoods. I know on the occasions when I use I-880, jousting with the big rigs is no picnic.
Back in the day when San Francisco and Oakland were the employment hubs, commuters from the valley loved the truck-free I-580 for their daily runs to the office. That’s still the case although pre-pandemic, BART was a popular option for many commuters.
Given that virtually all big rigs are powered by diesel engines that emit soot and do not burn as cleanly as gasoline engines that have catalytic converters. It’s been notable how much cleaner the air has been over the years as car manufacturers have refined engines to emit less in the exhaust.
This holiday season for students and their parents will have a different feel this year. Pleasanton students will be in the classroom until Wednesday, Dec. 22, but will not return until Jan. 11 for middle school and high school students. That will be one of the longest breaks I can remember at 13 weekdays (as one married to a teacher throughout her career at Amador Valley). As skiers, it would be one we’d love because the mountains typically empty after New Year’s Day when workers head back to the office.