After Being Pummeled By Caltrans

RSR leaders, Yehuda Sherman (L) & Michael Jackson (R) on bridge approach 1999Without a change in Caltrans leadership, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is not going to offer the economical path option that was presented to the Bay Conservation and Development Commission on 2/5/09.

The Marin IJ and the SF Chron both reported the inaccurate portrayal of the project presented by Caltrans. BCDC Commissioners were told by Caltrans officials that the only savings in cost between an earlier $70 million movable barrier proposal and the latest plan to simply use concrete “k-rail” barriers would be the elimination of $25 million in operating costs. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission estimated the solid barrier price at $15 to $20 million–a small fraction of the $1 billion Caltrans has spent on the bridge in the past several years.

The McAteer-Petris Act mandates that BCDC offer the “maximum feasible public access” (§66602) essential to public welfare to correct the inadequate bay and shoreline access. In lieu of real public access over SF Bay, Caltrans suggested costly shuttles or buses. Our experience with such services is that they lack the capacity for even small groups, schedules are inadequate, and they can be abruptly curtailed, as on the Benicia-Martinez Bridge. Foremost, however, a bus or shuttle is no substitute for riding over the bay any more than a You-Tube video of the ride!

The outcome was a foregone conclusion following the bitter defeat we suffered when the State Lands Commission granted Chevron a 30-year lease for the Richmond Long Wharf on 1/29/09 and did not compensate the public with a public access path leading to Point Molate and the RSR Bridge. You can read a report on that reversal of fortune in the February 2009 issue of rideOn.

Despite these defeats, we are left with a stronger coalition in West Contra Costa County to stand up for bicyclists. While we may have met our match in battling giant Chevron, top State elected leaders and Caltrans’ director Will Kempton, we have received tremendous support from State Senator Loni Hancock, Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, Supervisor John Gioia, and the Mayor and entire Richmond City Council.

Next up, install k-rail on the I-580 freeway approach to the RSR toll plaza. One bicyclist died and another is in a wheelchair following a crash on this short section of freeway. Join us in getting Caltrans to fix this hazard!

A bad day as Caltrans blocks plan Feb 2008
BCDC Support for path in Apr 2008