College Avenue Safeway rebuild

Donate to the Rockridge BART Plaza Project:

For more information:

  • For more information, to adopt a design element set forth in the plan or to make contributions in kind, contact Ann Winterman, RCPC board member and RCPC Parks Committee chair, at, or phone 510/757-3334.

Rockridge BART Plaza Project

News in reverse chronological order

July 6, 2012: A Long Tme Coming: BART Plaza Takes Shape in Builders' Hands
By Bob Franklin, BART manager of customer access, published in the Rockridge News

The Rockridge BART Plaza renovation project broke ground May 20, 10 years after its initial envisioning by the group UnderBART, sponsored by RCPC.

Golden Bay Construction, the Hayward company awarded the public contract from BART, will take about two months to complete the project that replaces the mound of ivy near the base of the station's escalator.

The wave bike racks adjacent to the former planter area were relocated to the west of the plaza's down escalators. All the ivy in the planter was removed, as was the large Black Acacia tree that leaned over Keith Avenue. The Oakland Zoo came and picked up 3 truckloads of branches from the acacia tree for about a week's worth of food for the elephants at the zoo.

About 30 percent of the planter was removed to open up the plaza. An arborist on-site provided input to protect the roots of the three redwood trees. The remaining planter had to be covered with mulch and all exposed roots had to be kept damp. As a safety guard against damaging any of the redwood tree roots, a large vacuum instead of tractors was used to remove the excess dirt.

Rock placement specialist Bill Castellon, in consultation with landscape architect Greer Alley, installed 12 Sierra Granite boulders weighing a total of 23 tons.

A compass rose has been completed and will be set in the plaza once the concrete work is complete. Designed primarily by Austin Cho with assistance from Cosmin Haims, it is a decorative iron manhole cover-sized art work commemorating the Rockridge community and the lure of travel.

At presstime, project features to complete include the bench that will border the planter, uplighting for the redwood trees, the placemarker "Rockridge" sign behind the boulders, the addition of native grasses to the remaining planter, and finishing the plaza colored concrete work.

BART will also repair the concrete around the London Plane tree by the bus zone on the east side of College Avenue.

July 6, 2012: Early Plaza Planning Laid the Groundwork
By Teresa Drenick, former RCPC Planning Committee member
and UnderBART chair, published in the Rockridge News

Last year, Bob Franklin told me that plans were afoot for the construction of the BART Plaza. I immediately dusted off and delivered a huge file created over 10 years ago when I chaired what was then called the UnderBART committee.

Stuffed full of photos, papers, drawings, phone lists and meeting agendas, my old file documents the history of an effort to enhance the space under the Rockridge BART station. Over a decade ago, our committee formed as an extension of the RCPC and our first public meeting at the Rockridge Library drew a crowd of more than 50 people. We continued to meet on a monthly basis for several years; committee regulars included many residents and merchants from the neighborhood, including Theresa Nelson, instrumental in founding Frog Park; Sarah Wilson and Peter Wilson, of Market Hall; Jan Christensen Heller of Christensen Heller Gallery; Glen Jarvis, local architect and RCPC boardmember; Mike McDonald, contractor and RCPC member; and Fred Womack and Patty Brunn, owners of Maison d'Etre, among many, many others.

Our efforts led to a mission statement, the creation of beautiful renderings and even a mocked-up plaza during an early "Out and About in Rockridge" street festival.

Over the years we worked on the plan, we met with officials at MTC, BART, CalTrans, and the city of Oakland, each of whom supported the idea. The vision for the area included a plaza space exactly where the current construction is taking place, a community garden on the northwest side of the station, and artistic, colorful lighting of BART's pedestrian breezeway above College.

We took into account comments and suggestions from hundreds of Rockridge residents, and hoped to create a beautiful space that could serve as a community hub for the neighborhood and enhance safety in the area by improving visibility and lighting.

In the end, the dedication and creative work of the committee stalled when we could not find a source to fund the project.

With the new plaza nearly complete, I have had a chance to reflect upon the efforts of our committee over a decade ago and I hope that, at least in some small part, we planted a seed that was finally able to take root and flourish.

April 4, 2012: BART Plaza Construction Nears
By BART Director Bob Franklin published in the Rockridge News

The renovation of Rockridge BART Plaza will finally begin construction around mid-April, nine years after being initially conceived as a community vision to improve the area under Highway 24 and the BART tracks on College Avenue.

BART, in partnership with the city of Oakland, the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC), and the Rockridge District Association (RDA), awarded the contract for the project last winter to Golden Bay Construction.

New benches will be added along the perimeter of a reconfigured planter, where the ivy is now. Additionally, an artistic cast iron compass rose, four feet in diameter, will be placed in the plaza, as well as Sierra Granite boulders, which will form a "rock ridge."

BART will also be repairing some tripping hazards in the concrete caused by the roots of the London Plane tree on College Avenue, just north of Keith Avenue.

I would like to extend a special thank you to volunteer Landscape Designer Greer Alley, who not only conceived most of the plans but has also been spending countless hours making sure all of the details of the project are being followed.
Bob Franklin, BART Board of Directors. Mail: Cell: 510/684-0026.

July 2, 2011: Plaza Design Out for Bid; Project Moves Closer to Reality

Plans to redesign Rockridge Plaza, the area at the base of the escalators lead-ing to the Rockridge BART station, are finally moving forward. Working with the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC), the Rockridge District Association (RDA), and the City of Oakland, BART put the proposal for the plaza redesign out for public bid in May; bids were due at the end of June. If the bids prove to be responsive and reasonable, a contract will soon be awarded to rework the plaza.

The plaza will meet the criteria estab-lished in a community survey completed in 2003-4, and in numerous public meetings since then, where the community sought an improved waiting area with better lighting.

Landscape designer Greer Alley volunteered her time to translate the community's vision into a colorful proposal that conformed to BART's specifications. About 35 percent of the present ivy planter will be removed, opening up the plaza and providing a more direct route to and from BART. The remaining ivy will be replaced with drought-resistant plants. More seating, colored pavement, redwood tree uplights, and relocated bike racks and garbage cans will make the plaza much more community friendly.

Lastly, a row of large boulders – a rock ridge – will be placed in the planter, to invoke the namesake of the community.

After the construction is complete, some artistic elements will be added to the plaza, including a sign over the boulders reading "Rockridge." This metal sign will be part of a separate follow-up bid, which will be a design-build contract open to any contractor or artist.

Overall, this redesign will make this area more welcoming, and will serve as inspiration to improve and make accessible the other three corners of College Avenue intersections under BART and Highway 24.

These other ivy patches will present new opportunities for community garden projects or other ideas that community members may have.Please contact me with any questions or concerns via my cell phone at 510/684-0026, or e-mail me at

Landscape Designer Greer Alley's plan for the plaza was followed by BART architects and engineers as they prepared project development plans. The graphic at left is an adaptation of a plan view graphic prepared by BART, and oriented to the photo above. Technical nomenclature in the original BART graphic has been replaced by more generic descriptions of the site's design. The descriptions have not been reviewed or approved by BART and are intended for informational use only. The adapted graphic is intended to give a sense of the project; it is not an official project document. — Rockridge News Editor

June 15: BART Plans Released

May 5, 2011: Plans for Rockridge BART Plaza on Track

Creating attractive and useful public space is never easily or quickly done. Eight years after RCPC first proposed improvements to the area outside the BART station area at Keith and College Avenues, an approved redesign of the space is in hand and closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Residents attending the RCPC April Town Hall got an early peek at the most current development plans for the area to be known as BART Plaza. Seen as a destination for BART passengers and College Avenue strollers and shoppers, the area's design is keyed on the Rockridge name. A variegated line of large 2011 Rockridge Plazastones — "A ridge of rock," said volunteer designer and Rockridge resident Greer Alley — capped by brawny metal letters spelling the well-known area's name, will be on the College Avenue side of the plaza area. On the other side, a serpentined concrete bench generally facing Keith Avenue will be positioned to receive as much sunlight as possible. Native grasses and ferns planted at the bases of the existing redwoods will replace the current blanket of ivy.

Public art is also included in the design features. A bronze compass rose set into the sidewalk is planned to be the initial piece to emphasize the sense of location and travel. It will be oriented to areas of interest near and far.

An eight-year-long project is bound to move in fits and starts; this one is no exception. Still, as people interested in the project came and went, it stayed alive, gathering the support of the Rockridge District Association (RDA), the city of Oakland, and BART itself.

One meeting attendee was concerned this latest iteration of the plans was developed without sufficient public participation. Another person, recently learning of the project, said she found it a successful design.

Project presenters Greer Alley, Bob Franklin of BART, Sara Wilson of Market Hall and RDA, and Ann Winterman of RCPC said money for the project and approval for the plans are in place. Franklin, a Rockridge resident and an early project supporter, obtained BART support and funding. Councilmember Jane Brunner's office developed city funding and RDA, with the support of Sara Wilson of Market Hall, spearheaded merchant money donations and support. In addition to the effort, time and support of board members through the years, RCPC has also donated funds.

The presenters said invitations for bids will be issued soon.

Note: drawing below added May 13, 2011

January 11, 2011: Rockridge Plaza
From the article "BART and Rockridge in 2011" written by BART Board President Bob Franklin Reports on Current Projects

BART will soon be releasing the bid documents for the redesign of the plaza at the base of the escalator leading to the Rockridge station platform. BART is working in cooperation with the Rockridge District Association (RDA), the RCPC, and the city of Oakland to make this space a much more welcoming gathering area for the community.

December 4, 2010: Choose A Bucket, Choose a Future; Rockridge BART Plaza

The Rockridge BART Plaza is a long-time plan coming closer to fruition. RCPC, RDA (Rockridge District Association) and BART have developed a plan to enhance the open, planted area at the corner of Keith and College, creating a more inviting, urban space. Funds for matching grants and project amenities are needed to advance the project. BART has already set aside most of the project funding. You can help bring this plaza to life. Contributions may be made via PayPal or credit card online at RCPC Web site,

November 6, 2010: Rockridge BART Plaza Plans Progressing

BART is ready for a visual upgrade. After years of difficulty gaining consensus on design, representatives from BART, the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC), and the Rockridge district Association (RDA) have developed a plan to remodel the plaza area of the BART station at College and Keith. The design calls for the creation of a sense of place and a public square, where people can enjoy this central aspect of our neighborhood, meet arriving BART passengers with ease, find their way with distinctive directional signage, and appreciate the three tall redwoods that grace the square.

The collaboration of the organizations gained momentum in April following the generous contributions of two long-term area residents: local landscape designer Greer Alley created a smart and beautiful plan, and hills resident Gordon Piper contributed his great knowledge of plants and outdoor elements.

In a meeting with Chief BART Architect Tian Feng last month, the coalition gained design approval, and BART is preparing to submit plans to bid.

Project representatives are now inviting one or more artist/designers interested in working on the project in a pro bono capacity to develop a Rockridge logo in the form of a metal compass rose paving element, and a three-dimensional “Rockridge” sign.

In addition, individuals and organizations wanting to help sponsor this important aesthetic upgrade are invited to contribute. RCPC has already pledged $20,000 for the project and RCA has pledged a matching $20,000. BART is putting up the bulk of the funding of this nearly quarter-million-dollar project, in the works since BART district 3 board member Bob Franklin helped to earmark parking money for it years ago.

For more information, to adopt a design element set forth in the plan or to make contributions in kind, contact Ann Winterman, RCPC board member and RCPC Parks Committee chair, at, or phone 510/757-3334.

Donations can be made via PayPal and by check. Checks should be made out to: RCPC/Rockridge DVD Project, 4123 Broadway, PMB 311, Oakland, CA 94611.

Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

July 7, 2008: Rockridge Plaza Update
Excerpt from the article "BART and Rockridge: A Report from BART Director Bob Franklin"

BART is finalizing the bid documents for the redesign of Rockridge Plaza – the vision created by the RCPC, the RDA and the committee "UnderBART." The ivy at the base of the escalator will be replaced with additional seating, a new pathway and native plants.

October 6, 2007: Under-BART — Rockridge Escalator Plaza

Preliminary design work for this plaza, at the northeast corner of College and Shafter, has begun and should be available for public review in a couple of months.

June 2, 2007: Rockridge Plaza Redesign
Excerpt from the article, "Keeping Up With BART by Bob Franklin", BART director, District 3

BART recently hired Level Four Studio to redesign the Rockridge Plaza at the base of the BART escalator; draft plans will be posted on my website by July. Most of the suggestions from the "UnderBART" committee sponsored by RCPC will be addressed: more seating, a direct pedestrian path to BART, better lighting and a more attractive landscape than ivy. I am also working with the Rockridge merchants association (RDA) and RCPC to install a community kiosk and business directory for this area. BART train departure information will soon be available on the internet, once internal firewalls are secure and the software is fully integrated. I am working with a few College Avenue merchants to display this real-time departure schedule on a computer monitor in their stores, so you will know when your BART train is arriving without having to wait on the platform.

July, 2006: Focus: Rockridge BART Plaza Plans
by Bob Franklin, BART Boardmember, and Stephanie Upp, RCPC Boardmember

A portion of revenue from BART parking charges, earmarked for access improvements, is now available to partially fund improvements to the Rockridge BART plaza. These funds offer the Rockridge community an exciting opportunity to begin planning for an overall redesign of the plaza area.

Creating an improved public space around the Rockridge BART station area on College Avenue was the focus of the June RCPC Town Hall meeting. Twenty three people from the community, the Rockridge District Association (RDA), RCPC, and BART met to provide input on moving this project forward.* Some of the ideas voiced at the Town Hall meeting include:

  • Real-time BART and bus departure information on the street level
  • A business directory with a community bulletin board
  • Additional lighting to the area under the dark overpasses
  • Additional benches
  • Ivy removal and landscaping
  • Fencedin play area for tots
  • A community-driven, professionally guided redesign of the entire plaza area.

This wish list closely matches one developed by earlier UnderBART efforts. during 2003-2004, the UnderBART committee crafted a vision statement, which included specific features on how to better utilize this central location. A 2004 survey of BART riders and plaza pedestrians confirmed these priorities. The recent Town Hall was the project's first concerted effort since that time.

Some of these improvements can be started in the near future. Oakland City Councilmember Jane Brunner has committed funding for 10 to 12 benches for the Rockridge Plaza from the College Avenue Bench Project, which installed wooden benches along College Avenue in May 2006.A committee, open to interested Rockridge residents, is forming to work with an architect to design plans for this area. We then could implement landscape improvements, add the benches, display real-time transit information, and put in a kiosk.

Long-term major changes to this area require securing a grant or a new funding source, which is not unprecedented. The recent remarkably improved 16th and Mission BART plaza in San Francisco is an excellent example of what a strong community vision can do. It turned an unsafe, dirty area into a vibrant, community gathering space. Groups that have expressed an interest in improving the Rockridge plaza include the RCPC, BART, the City of Oakland, the Oakland Police department, the Rockridge Development Association (RDA), community volunteers, the Bay Area Council, and a Community Benefit district.

To get involved or to submit your comments, please contact:Bob Franklin, BART Board Member: or 510/684-0026;Stephanie Upp, RCPC Board Member: or 510/594-0755.