State Looking into Remodel for Tubes

Photos courtesy of

Little has changed at the Posey Tube since this 1930s-era Oakland Chamber of Commerce postcard was released.

Among the items on the agenda for this evening's joint meeting of the Historical Advisory and Planning boards is a letter from the California Department of Transportation's (DOT) Elizabeth Krase Geeene. In the letter Greene informs the city that the department will conduct environmental studies for a proposed rehabilitation and safety project for the Posey and Webster tubes. The study will determine if the project might affect cultural resources associated with the tubes.

At 5 a.m., on Oct. 27, 1928, Carl Brooks drove a passengerless Alameda Contra Costa District bus through the George A. Posey Tube. Once Brooks made it through, the underwater passageway was opened to both pedestrians and automobile traffic. On his website, Gary Lenhart correctly points out that the tube did not open in 1927, as the sign posted at the entrance of the tube today so prominently claims.

Alameda architect Henry Haight Meyers designed the tube's striking Art Deco portals. The Posey Tube handled passengers in both directions. Greta Dutcher in her Acadia book Alameda writes that in 1951 Gov. Earl Warren called the tube "one of the worst bottlenecks in California." Relief came in the form of the Webster Street Tube, which opened to traffic on Feb., 13, 1963, using the same design technique as the Posey Tube.


The Posey Tube in recent years has become a place that few would traverse without a motor vehicle.

The Posey Tube — including its associated portal buildings and approaches — has been eligible for individual listing on the California Register of Historic Resources and the National Register of Historic Places since 1998.

The Oakland portal building has been part of the National Register-listed Oakland Waterfront Warehouse Historic District since 2000, and has been an Oakland City Landmark since 1992. The Alameda portal building is a City of Alameda Historical Monument.

DOT has informed the city that the tubes' portal buildings, which provide necessary venting, are in need of repair. If all goes as planned, workers will also fix the sidewalks in both tubes. In addition, the department said that it will install new guard rails on the walkways — 4,750 feet in the Posey Tube and 3,520 feet in the Webster Tube.

Workers will also install closedcircuit television cameras at both entrances to both tubes.

DOT stated in a letter to the city that it intends to remove the existing cobra-head lighting on both sides of the Posey Tube entrance and install historically correct light fixtures. "These fixtures will be as close as possible in overall style, orientation and scale to the historic fixtures," DOT stated.

The department stated that it also plans to install spotlights to illuminate the tubes' towers and pylons.

Plans also call for restoring ornamental panels that were removed with cast-concrete panels copied from the tubes' original designs Workers will strip and clean the existing handrails on landings and at the stairs to the entrances to the Posey Tube, and existing metal-clad doors and steel window frames on the Posey structures. The letter stated that workers would use "the gentlest means possible."



0 #1 Mark D. 2013-04-06 02:38
I hope the walkways will be accessible to cyclists and pedestrians in both tubes. I also hope they will improve access for cyclists and pedestrians I the area around the tubes so that it is safe and easy to get on and off the island. I look forward to seeing it restored to it's former glory.

Add comment

Security code