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City Revamps Downtown BART Plaza

In the upcoming months, construction will begin for the renovation of the Downtown Berkeley BART station.

The renovation includes an updated, more open layout of the plaza surrounding the entrance, improved lighting, new landscaping features, and improved access to transportation surrounding the station. Instead of the BART rotunda, there will be a new glass building in place. The original design principles of the project emphasized a sustainable design, with mindful water and stormwater usage as well as conscious energy consumption. The refreshed landscape will include rain gardens, appropriate drainage, and drought tolerant vegetation.

There are plans for the updated plaza to be a lively, active space used for a range of activities. On the concept design board of the renovation, there are suggestions of farmers’ markets, arts and culinary fairs, food trucks, and small entertainment venues.

openness of the plaza and improved lighting, restaurants and cafes will have space for outdoor dining and seating areas.

In addition, there will be fewer barriers that could conceal problematic street behavior such as drug dealing.

Along with the renovation comes a display of art that will be featured at the BART station’s main entrance as well as the bus shelters in Downtown improving the atmosphere of the area.

Of 84 submissions from California artists, Julie Chang’s design was chosen by a panel of BART officials, city civic arts representatives, and local artists.

“Berkeley is really the global community. If you look at the history of Berkeley, it’s been so much about being inclusive and diversity and just melding, more so than many other cities,” said Chang.

Chang’s art is a reflection of Berkeley’s diversity. Her design includes patterns from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

The concept design board stated that the art and openness of the plaza give hope of “[creating] a welcoming, attractive, memorable, vibrant place for all users that reflects Berkeley’s history and culture, and enhances the city’s economy.”

The Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) is partially funding the project.

Heather Barber from the commission stated, “Public transportation infrastructure improvements are shown time and again to create jobs, and improve access, mobility, and the environment. Improving this station will help students, commuters, seniors, and people with disabilities access Downtown Berkeley — making it more vibrant than ever — and access the greater Bay Area.”

This BART project is not  the only thing on the way for transportation in Downtown Berkeley.

The city is also currently rebuilding Center Street Garage to add three hundred new parking spots, bringing new the total to 740, as well as space for three hundred bicycles.

Berkeley also has plans to improve Shattuck to make the street safer for cars as well as bicycles and pedestrians.

The plaza will now include electronic displays with arrival and departure times for buses and BART trains. The plaza will also include improved bus shelters.

It is predicted that construction should be finished in the fall of 2017. Although certain entrances to the station are to temporarily close during the renovation, there will still always be at least one open entrance. The entrance along Allston and Shattuck will be the first to close this fall, and will reopen during the winter of 2017. The main entrance on Center and Shattuck will close until summer of 2017, once the secondary plaza entrance has been reopened. Additionally, the Downtown Berkeley bus and shuttle stops will be relocated during the construction.

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