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Alta Bates expansion faces traffic, parking woes

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  • 8/1 Contra Costa Times
    Published Wednesday, August 1, 2001, in the Contra Costa Times Alta Bates expansion faces big traffic, parking hurdles By Greg Cannon Contra Costa Times
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2001
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      Published Wednesday, August 1, 2001, in the Contra Costa Times

      Alta Bates expansion faces big traffic, parking hurdles

      By Greg Cannon
      Contra Costa Times

      BERKELEY -- Plans to expand the emergency room at Alta Bates Medical
      Center won't cause major environmental problems, but a draft report
      on the project warns future growth could prove more complicated for
      the Ashby Avenue hospital.

      With annual emergency room visits running about three to four times
      the rate the emergency room was built to handle, Alta Bates officials
      want to increase the size of the department by about 40 percent, to
      12,300 square feet from 8,800 square feet.

      The project is expected to cost about $14 million and take two to
      three years. According to the report, the department gets 34,000 to
      44,000 patient visits a year to a facility designed for 12,000 visits.

      The emergency room would expand into the radiology department and not
      add to medical center's overall size. Radiology would move to another
      building on the medical center campus.

      "It think everybody believes there's a need for a new emergency
      department," said Deborah Pitts, the hospital's public affairs
      manager. "The whole point is to make it a more efficient space."

      The plan is not likely to increase traffic to the campus, because the
      number of emergency room visits is a function of the size and
      character of the hospital's service area and not the size of the
      emergency department, the report said.

      But concerns over traffic and parking are more pronounced in the
      report's evaluation of other elements of the hospital's master
      development plan.

      The master plan includes a 114,200 square-foot, six-story building on
      the east side of the hospital, a new atrium lobby to be created by
      walling off an existing courtyard, an underground strip of offices
      along Ashby Avenue and a six-story parking garage to replace a five-
      story garage.

      The parking garage project would create significant issues because it
      would put the garage closer to neighboring homes and cause parking
      problems from the time the old garage is demolished until the new one
      is completed.

      Pitts stressed that the main focus is on getting the emergency room
      project approved and that other projects are now nothing more than
      ideas "that may or may not come to fruition."

      The report's release kicks off 60 days of public comment that will
      include an Aug. 9 public hearing at 7 p.m. in the City Council
      chamber at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

      The public can see or buy the report at the city's permit center at
      2120 Milvia St. It can soon be viewed at the city Web site at
      www.ci.berkeley.ca.us.

      Written comments on the report can be submitted through Sept. 18 to
      the attention of Margaret Kavanaugh-Lynch, senior planner, at the
      Milvia Street address.

      At the end of the public comment period, the consultant who prepared
      the report for the city will incorporate public comments into a final
      environmental report.

      Greg Cannon covers Berkeley. Reach him at 510-262-2713 or e-mail
      gcannon@....
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