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A design rendering of the new downtown Berkeley BART entrance and plaza.

The BART Board of Directors this morning unanimously approved the contract to start construction of the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza and Transit Area Improvement Project. The project will replace the current rotunda with a new glazed entrance to the BART station, and change the sea of red bricks that dominate the current plaza design.

“I think this is going to be really transformative for downtown Berkeley,” said BART director Rebecca Salzman. “The area right now is very congested. This will really open up the space and improve the biking and walking options to BART. I think this will really be a model.”

Read more about the BART plaza project on Berkeleyside.

In addition to the main entrance, the project will renovate the five other entrances to the station and build two bus shelters on the west side of Shattuck between Allston and Center. Over 30,000 daily transit riders currently use the area, including BART, AC Transit and UC Berkeley Bear Transit shuttles.

“I think it’s going to reactivate the heart of the downtown and the heart of the city,” said John Caner, executive director, Downtown Berkeley Association. “The old entrance and the plaza are tired and in need of modernization. The new entrance is a stunning addition. The open plaza is a space that is going to be a wonderful gathering spot as well as a transit hub for downtown.” 

Two street-level renderings of the new downtown Berkeley BART Plaza.

Caner said the new design eliminates barriers and pinch points that have made it difficult to cope with what he called “problematic street behavior,” including drug dealing. The plans for the new plaza include sidewalk seating for the storefronts along the plaza.

“We’ll activate the plaza with people having lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks, so we get a town square sense of vitality,” Caner said.

Caner said that open sight lines, improved lighting and a program of activities will be crucial in making the plaza a more usable public space.

Construction is scheduled to begin in June and take around 14 months. The total cost of the project is $7.6 million, with funding from a federal One Bay Area Grant, allocated by the Alameda County Transportation Commission.

Council weighs in on new downtown Berkeley plaza plans (07.09.15)
Open house displays plans for Shattuck Square facelift (06.12 15)
Berkeley BART plaza plans ‘not a bad first start’ (04.29.14)
Berkeley BART plaza workshop comes Monday (01.30.14)
Downtown Berkeley BART plaza slated for major overhaul (11.26.13)
Berkeley set for $12.7m in downtown transport grants (05.28.13)
Berkeley council approves plans to green downtown (01.30.13)
Berkeley’s downtown BART is all roses as part of clean-up (07.17.12)

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...