OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — A plan to reconfigure the MacArthur Maze has been put on hold two years before it even started after push back from East Bay leaders.
“So this is one of many projects around California to raise bridges to federal and state standards,” explained Lindsey Hart, a spokesperson for Caltrans. “So that larger trucks don’t have to make lengthy detours around the bridges.”
Constructed in the 1930s in anticipation of the new Bay Bridge, the MacArthur Maze not only struggles to manage modern traffic loads, three of the underpasses fall short of modern clearance requirements. In some cases, by fewer than 24 inches.
“So there are three bridges. If you drive over them, you’ll see that the vertical clearance is not 16’6”, which is the federal and state height standard,” said Hart.
Caltrans was actually looking at four possible fixes for the clearance issue with potential costs near $200 million. But the real cost might have been to drivers. The 2007 fire exposed just how badly ramp closures can affect traffic.
Given that any ramp reconfiguration would mean maze complications for up to three years, local leaders including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf have asked whether all of that pain is even necessary. So despite the range of possible fixes Caltrans was considering, the plans have now been put on hold.
“When I first learned about this project I was flabbergasted,” said Schaaf. “But I have to give Caltrans credit. They have put the maze project on hold. They recognize before they spend $182 million plus, they better identify the need and the impacts.”
Caltrans officials say they have heard the feedback and will revisit the plans.
“The project has been put on pause,” said Hart. “We haven’t moved forward with any alternative working very closely closely with the community and all the stakeholders before we have a solution to move forward.”
The project was originally scheduled to start in April 2020. That timetable is now on hold.