Friday, November 9, 2012

blog: Oakland 12th Street Project

The Oakland 12th Street Project blog is coming to an end soon. The blog has been carefully following the progress of the 12th Street project, which is getting rid of "world's shortest freeway" and widening the opening between Lake Merritt and the estuary. The good news is that the 12th Street work is nearing completion. The bad news is that the writer and photographer behind the blog, Erik Niemann, has moved from Oakland to Sacramento.

Erik started documenting the project at the May 6, 2010 groundbreaking, and started the blog not long after. Although he's received a small stipend for some special projects (e.g., documenting the construction of the new marsh), he's mostly done this task for over two years because he wants to. In fact, he delayed his move to Sacramento to continue the documentation. Now that's dedication.

That amazing dedication was celebrated at a reception Erik hosted in the 11th-story apartment where he lived until recently and where he took many of his photos from. Pat Kernighan presented Erik with a commendation from the Oakland city council thanking him for his work. Guests enjoyed the view, and took in some of the more than 22,000 pictures he's taken to document the progress.

The time lapse below shows the progress from the beginning of 2011 through March of this year:
Erik is working on a new time lapse sequence which shows all the progress so far. But there are many notable individual photos, like this "before" photo:
which shows 12th Street with the configuration it's had since the 1950s: 12 lanes of traffic, a mess of connectors and crazy merges, and a very narrow opening between Lake Merritt and the estuary. Compare that with the last shot Erik took from his apartment:
which shows a much saner 6 lanes of traffic, bike lanes, fewer connectors, a separated pedestrian and bike path, lots more open and green space, plus the wider opening from the lake.

Although Erik and his wife have moved to Sacramento, Erik will be making a few return trips to continue documenting the progress. Erik is also a painter and photographer, and you can view an exhibit of his work at EBMUD headquarters on 11th Street. The exhibition runs until December 20th. So long, and thanks for all the great photos, Erik!

More pictures from my visit with Erik:

Related posts:
The Lake that Isn't (May 2012)
Oakland Urban Paths: Jane's Walk (May 2012)
New in Oakland (June 2011)

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