Supporting the Transition and Preservation of a Historic District in Alameda
The Naval Air Station Alameda Historic District (Historic District) is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is considered historically significant, with an and includes a large concentration of historic buildings. Unfortunately, the Historic District has several chronically vacant buildings that have deteriorated over the last two decades. To revitalize the area, the City intends to create a mixed-use district to entice residents, businesses, visitors, and tourists to the area to stimulate the local economy and create a sense of community. As Alameda Point is successfully developed over the next 25 to 30 years, there will be significant impacts on the Historic District including alterations, modifications, and removal of some features and buildings.
A key component of the area’s redevelopment is the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal project, which will help revitalize the area and help relieve traffic congestion for Bay Area commuters. Public transportation on and off the island is a critical issue in Alameda. The closest existing ferry terminal to Seaplane Lagoon is the Alameda Main Street Terminal along the Oakland Alameda Estuary that serves Oakland’s Jack London Square and Alameda. The Main Street ferry terminal service has limited ridership capacity during peak commute periods. Vessel conflicts at the float occur regularly and parking demand at the facility currently exceeds available spaces. Accessing the Main Street terminal has historically been a challenge given its isolated location—forcing many ferry riders to drive alone to the terminal due to a lack of bus service and poor bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. The new Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal is closer to the City’s residential areas, significantly improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure connecting the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal with the rest of Alameda. Also, the additional capacity provided by the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal will help the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) achieve 15-minute peak service ferry arrivals per their Strategic Plan.
A New Ferry Terminal
The project constructed a new ferry terminal, including a passenger loading float, fixed pier, gangway connecting the float and pier, public shoreline improvements with pedestrian and bicycle trails, a parking area, and the infrastructure improvements required to support the facility. It included 7.14 acres of landscaping, parking and bike/pedestrian pathways, bicycle lockers and bicycle racks, and a nearly 13,000 SF ferry terminal building.
Construction required installing six, 36-inch steel piles driven in the water for the float guides and fendering, four 26-inch piles for the shore structure foundation, and six octagonal concrete piles in the water. Preparation for the shoreside foundation also required stone columns and deep soil mixing. The new parking area includes Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, infrastructure for additional EV charging stations, and solar-powered parking lot lighting.
Ghirardelli was selected as the City of Alameda’s consultant construction management firm for the project and coordinated with the developer and with WETA to help ensure the project met all stakeholder expectations and requirements. Project funding was provided by the Developer – Alameda Point Partners (APP), WETA, the City of Alameda (COA), and the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). All of the agencies provided input for the project and exercised some control over how the project funds were spent. To keep the project on track and mitigate potentially conflicting priorities, we developed and adhered to a responsibilities and authorities matrix. This helped establish close coordination, mutual respect, a positive attitude, a spirit of fixing the problem rather than fixing the blame, and a sense of humor among the agencies involved, resulting in harmonious working relationships and smooth resolution of project problems and issues that developed throughout the project.
Ghirardelli’s construction inspector participated in weekly project meetings, answered first-line inquiries by contractor staff, provided input to decision-making regarding contract changes, payment applications, and made recommendations regarding site safety and environmental compliance.
Being an old Navy Base, the on-site underground utilities were not well mapped out or documented. In addition, protecting monitoring wells, some of which were not visible on the surface, and access to the Navy’s sampling teams were considerations that we addressed throughout the project. The Construction Managers were in frequent contact with the Navy representatives and monitoring well contractors to coordinate safe access to the wells and help identify potential monitoring wells uncovered during construction work.
Ghirardelli implemented a comprehensive safety program during construction. Weekly tailgate meetings were held and attended by all on-site staff. Morning warm-up exercises and stretches were held daily and pre-briefs with a safety component were conducted prior to working on each new feature of the project.
Substantial portions of the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal project were built within one hundred feet of the high tide line in San Francisco Bay. In addition to a rich diversity of birds and fish, sea lions, Harbor Seals, and even a humpback whale were seen in Seaplane Lagoon during the project. Throughout the project, restrictions were in place to mitigate impacts on marine organisms. In the parking lot area, LED parking lots with motion detectors were installed, “clean air” EV vehicle parking spots were installed, and ADA-compliant pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths were constructed.
The Ferry Terminal is an essential facility required for emergency water transportation should other Bay Area transportation infrastructure become unusable from seismic or storm events. As such, it was designed to remain in operation through a 50-year sea level rise and remain intact and operational following large seismic events. The terminal’s lighting, communications, and security systems can operate off of emergency batteries for at least 48 hours should the electrical grid fail, and the security and communications systems can continue to operate through either in-ground cables or line-of-site wireless systems. The movable ramps for passenger loading and unloading can theoretically operate indefinitely since they also have two solar powers to keep their separate batteries charged. If the outage lasts longer, an emergency generator can be plugged into a special connection in the parking lot.
Finally, the biggest benefit provided by the Ferry Terminal at Seaplane Lagoon are the enhanced transit alternatives that remove car traffic from roads and bridges. This is particularly important for a small island city like Alameda, with only four bridges and a tube offering transportation options. Any action to reduce congestion at these choke points will provide better commute times and options for all residents of the East Bay area