With completion of $8M marina project, Berkeley’s infamous bumpy street is no more

Visitors driving to the Berkeley shoreline no longer have to undergo a teeth-jangling, suspension-rattling experience.

June 16- University Ave opening/ Marina
The city held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, June 16, 2022, to celebrate the newly repaved University Avenue at the Berkeley Marina. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/Catchlight

The western end of University Avenue will no longer live up to its reputation as one of Berkeley’s “worst” streets as of Thursday morning, when the city of Berkeley announced the completion of its $8 million Berkeley Marina Roadway Improvements Project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

“The Berkeley Marina is one of the city’s finest treasures, but unfortunately, Berkeley residents have long considered this road one of our city’s worst features,” said Vice Mayor Kate Harrison during the ceremony. “A year ago, the pavement undulated like the nearby tides and tested the suspension of every single car, bicyclist and walker that came this way.”

The deteriorating roadways, Harrison said, were particularly dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. New sidewalks and pedestrian crossings were added to improve road safety. University Avenue was also shifted northwestern to avoid the original pier structure that caused the previous pavement to deteriorate, she noted. 

Standing in place of bumpy asphalt is a smooth, new roundabout at University and Marina. It includes a truck apron that allows semi-trailer trucks delivering food to the marina’s restaurants and neighboring Doubletree by Hilton Hotel to safely navigate the roundabout, said supervising civil engineer Nelson Lam. 

June 16- University Ave opening/ Marina
The city held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, June 16, 2022, to celebrate the newly repaved University Avenue at the Berkeley Marina. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/Catchlight

Marina Boulevard and Spinnaker Way were also repaved, and a traffic circle was rebuilt at the end of Spinnaker. Construction officially began last fall, but the project has been in its planning stages since 2017, Lam said. 

Climate resilience at the marina was a priority, Harrison said. 

“Money has also gone — very important to me — towards improving the climate resilience of the marina by installing green permeable infrastructure along Spinnaker way and University Avenue,” Harrison said. “Thanks to this project, one of our civic treasures will be more climate-resilient going forward. We can all now travel more safely to the Berkeley Marina.”

June 16- University Ave opening/ Marina
Permeable pavers were placed alongside the road to improve drainage at the Berkeley Marina, Thursday, June 16, 2022. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/Catchlight

While the ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the finishing of one project, it also marked the start of another: the $3.42 million Caltrans Clean California Beautification Improvements project, which focuses on the area around the base of University Avenue across from the Seabreeze Market and Deli. 

Caltrans Acting Clean California project manager Mathew Abel outlined the architectural enhancements and landscaping they will work on in the coming months. The project will also include new welcoming signage to be installed at the entrance to the waterfront and is expected to be completed in June 2024.

Iris Kwok covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America. Email: iris@berkeleyside.org.