Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and other city officials launched an ambitious three-year, $100 million street repaving effort called "The Great Pave" on Thursday that focuses on local neighborhood streets and historically underserved neighborhoods.
Speaking at a news conference at the corner of Harold and Champion streets in the city's Fruitvale district where city Department of Transportation workers were busy repaving streets, Schaaf said the project is long overdue because residents have suffered from poor road conditions for many years.
Schaaf said Harold Street, which is near the Fruitvale Avenue exit off of Interstate Highway 580, "has been one of the worst streets" but said she will soon be proud to "present a smooth and safe Harold Street."
The mayor said the street-paving project, which aims to repave 100 miles of city streets, "is unprecedented in modern history" in Oakland because it won't just be fixing potholes but instead will replace streets so that no potholes remain.
"This a great day for Oakland infrastructure," Schaaf said.
Schaaf said the funding for the street-paving project comes from Measure KK, which was passed by Oakland voters in 2016 and provides $350 million in bond funding over a 10-year period to repair and enhance the city's roads.
In May, the Oakland City Council adopted a plan the city's Department of Transportation developed to put Measure KK funds to work.
Schaaf, an Oakland native, said, "Over the 10 years of the KK bond we should have decent roads in Oakland for the first time in my lifetime."
Joining Schaaf at the news conference, Department of Transportation Director Ryan Russo admitted that currently "the city's streets are really in an embarrassing condition."
But Russo said, "This is a really exciting day" because the streets should be in much better shape when the project is completed.
Russo said the plan to spend $100 million over three years reflects a tripling of his department's paving budget because prior to the passage of Measure KK, funding for paving work was insufficient even to maintain the poor overall condition of Oakland streets.
Russo also emphasized that restoring local streets is a major focus of the plan, as $75 million of the $100 million in spending will go to smaller, local, neighborhood streets that were largely neglected under the previous policy due to insufficient funding.
Russo said a key feature of the repaving project is that it is equity-focused because much of the work will be done in neighborhoods that historically have been under-served and neglected.
He said those communities were identified by including people of color, low-income households, people with disabilities, households with a severe rent burden, people with limited English proficiency and youths and seniors.