If you’ve walked around the south end of Lake Merritt lately, you may have noticed construction equipment and big pieces of concrete sewer pipe stacked in the median area of the busy 12th Street Dam. Your heart may have jumped, like mine did, as you thought perhaps this is the start of the long-awaited destruction and rebuilding of that crumbling bit of infrastructure.
Alas, the equipment there is just being stored by Andes Construction, which, according to Joel Peter of the City of Oakland, is doing a sewer project in the nearby neighborhood. The company is using the median area, originally designed as a bus-stop island with tunnels linking it to the sidewalks on either side of the busy streets, as a place to stack up pipe sections and heaps of dirt (which is what fooled me into thinking they were digging).
According to Peter, the 12th Street project “is still creeping through the endless Federal funding process, which is administered by CalTrans.”
He said there’s been progress, and the city “may be able to advertise it for bid in a month or two” which would let construction start in early 2010.
Peter stressed, however, that “the CalTrans timeline is out of our control.”
Meanwhile, a huge wooden platform that used to hold stacked up rowing shells by the Oakland Municipal Boathouse has been floated over to the south edge of the lake, and it’s brought a huge host of birds with it. This morning there were 55 cormorants perched there at 8 o’clock. Last week no fewer than 10 huge white pelicans made it a temporary home.
The platform was moved as part of the renovations at the boathouse, set to hold the Lake Chalet restaurant.
The city will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. at the boathouse.
Steven E.F. Brown is a business reporter who lives in Oakland.