BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – It is one of the busiest freeway interchanges in the East Bay and it’s about to undergo a bit of a makeover.

On Thursday, a virtual groundbreaking ceremony was held to celebrate the start of the new project. 

The I-80/Gilman Street Project is located in northwest Berkeley near the Albany border.

The project will reconfigure freeway-on-and-off ramps, surface street intersections, crosswalks, and bike paths on Gilman between West Frontage Road and 2nd Street through the I-80 interchange. 

Among the primary goals are reducing congestion by shortening queues for vehicles and bicycles merging or making turns.

“Which will provide safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists in this area,” Tess Lengyel, executive director of Alameda County Transportation, said. 

Improving safety is a big deal for this construction partnership between Caltrans and the Alameda County Transportation Commission.

“The I-80/Gilman interchange has a 38% higher than average vehicular injury rate and is also a very high-stress environment for bicyclists and walkers,” Lengyel said. 

These infrastructure improvements are being made possible with the help of California voters approving SB1 the Road Repair and Accountability Act back in 2017.

“That vote of confidence allowed $4-million of SB1 active transportation funds to be included in the $61-million construction cost for the Gilman Interchange improvements,” Dina El-Tawansy, director of Caltrans District 4, said. 

The concerns of a coalition of community stakeholders helped influence the project’s vision and design.  

“We are grateful for the improvement coming to the Gilman Interchange. It will make the roads much safer for my family, my customers, my employees,” Kristen Davis, owner of KC’s BBQ, said. 

“The freeway cut off communities from the waterfront. Projects like this help connect us back to it,” Nick Pilcho, co-founder of Albany Rollers and Strollers, said. 

“We have a lot more work to do and I look forward to working with the Alameda CTC and Caltrans on overcoming more barriers between neighborhoods and the Bay Trail,” Dave Campbell, advocacy director of Bike East Bay, said. 

The I-80/Gilman Project will be conducted in two phases: pedestrian and bicycle overcrossing, followed by interchange and local street improvements. 

The construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2023.