ALAMEDA -- Traffic would increase on the city's main throughfares during commute times with the redevelopment of Alameda Point, a draft study on the environmental impacts of the project has found.
Noise would also increase as crews work to build the 1,425 homes and about 5.5 square feet of retail and business space proposed for the former U.S. Navy base, plus the resulting dust and debris would undermine air quality.
But the draft Environmental Impact Report, which city officials are now considering, also recommends steps that could lessen the short and long-term impacts, including offering incentives for the area's future residents to use water taxis and other public transportation to lower geenhouse gas emissions.
The City Council and Planning Board will gather public input on the document during a joint meeting Sept. 25, People can submit comments through Oct. 21.
"No matter what changes are made at Alameda Point, it will cause issues and problems in some area," said Doreen Ludwig, 28, as she walked along the shoreline at the former base on a recent afternoon. "That's almost inevitable with any change. But it's a sacrifice that hopefully will make this a better place."
Along with more traffic in the city's West End, traffic would increase at the Island gateways, such as Doolittle Drive and Fernside Boulevard near the Fruitvale Bridge, the 1,000-page document says.
At Broadway and Otis Drive, morning traffic could jump 12 percent, while the number of evening commuters would increase 14 percent.
But the document also said the effects could be lessened through lane reconfigurations that would require the loss of six parking spaces on Bayview Drive during peak hours.
The Park Street and Blanding Avenue intersection would see an additional 90 vehicles during the morning commute and 70 vehicles during the evening. Creating additional turn lanes and other changes could help minimize the impact.
The document also found traffic would rise in Oakland's Chinatown as more drivers pass through the Webster and Posey tubes during commute hours on their to way and from Interstate 880.
Along with traffic, the draft EIR looks at environmental cleanup, population growth, housing and other aspects of the overall effort to redevelop Alameda Point.
The current plans include a waterfront "Town Center" that would be built near where many of the former Navy base's historic buildings are located. The character of some buildings, however, may end up compromised as crews upgrade infrastructure, take steps to offset projected sea level rise and carry out other work, the document said.
Some structures also "may not be economically feasible to rehabilitate and reuse, especially considering the cost of installing new infrastructure," said Jennifer Ott, chief operating officer for Alameda Point. Some buildings have been vacant for at least 15 years.
The Town Center, which would be located around what was known as the Seaplane Lagoon, would include a marina, ferry terminal and places for recreation.
While the draft EIR recommends steps to lessen the potential effects of the area's transformation, it also concludes that some impacts may be "significant and unavoidable," Ott said.
The document also looks at the impact of tweaking the overall redevelopment plan, including building more or fewer homes, as well as the impact of leaving Alameda Point as it is.
Currently, the former base has 267 housing units and businesses that provide about 1,000 jobs.
But city officials expect 3,240 people will live there and about 8,900 jobs will be created if their current plans go forward. Parks and open space are also proposed.
Alameda Point totals about 1,560 acres. The city took ownership of about 1,400 acres in June through a no-cost conveyance agreement with the Navy, which closed the base in 1997. The entire transfer is expected to be completed by 2019.
The draft EIR is available on the city's website: http://alamedaca.gov/alameda-point/current-draft-documents.
Copies of the document are also available at the City Clerk's Office at City Hall, the city's public libraries, City Hall West at Alameda Point, Mastick Senior Center, the club house at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex, the Alameda Chamber of Commerce, the Alameda Point Collaborative and the reference desk at the College of Alameda.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.