Progress Towards an Oakland Estuary Bridge

Currently freeway on- and off-ramps mix with neighborhood streets through Oakland’s Chinatown district, and access between Alameda and Downtown Oakland for people walking or riding is nonexistent (barring braving the walkway in the Posey Tube). The Oakland Alameda Access Project, now in process by the Alameda County Transportation Commission for years, has promised to address these problems. But as a major car-oriented freeway access project, ensuring inclusion of high-quality and equitable bicycle and pedestrian access has been a complicated advocacy process with many twists and turns. Improvements for folks who walk and ride are on deck for the Oakland side, and last week, alongside leaders from Bike Walk Alameda, we made progress for connectivity to Alameda: raising the bar and moving forward regional partnerships to support a new bike-ped bridge across the Oakland Estuary. Read on to get the latest, and sign up for updates today

Alameda Access
Originally, the addition of a second walkway in the Webster Tube was described as the “bike and pedestrian” part of the Oakland Alameda Access Project. But Bike Walk Alameda vigorously opposed that and asked for funding to support the plan process for a bike-ped bridge. Bike East Bay has supported their Bridge the Gap campaign for years and backed up that ask for the Oakland Alameda Access Project.

The problem was that we were told a bike ped bridge was beyond the scope of the project and not included in the project’s environmental documents. The City of Alameda and the advocacy community have succeeded in having the Alameda CTC fund a feasibility study for a bike ped bridge (it’s feasible!), and a demand analysis to estimate how many people would use it (a lot!). Now, the Alameda CTC needs to fund the next phases to keep moving toward design and eventually implementation of what will be a transformational bridge over the estuary.

Long story short: the bike ped bridge will be a separate project, and is now in the County’s 10-year plan—a huge step forward. The bike ped bridge item goes before the full Alameda County Transportation Commission as early as January for recommendations on how to fund its design. Major kudos to Bike Walk Alameda and City of Alameda staff and elected officials for pushing in a unified voice to make this happen.

Oakland Access
Meanwhile, on the Oakland side, Bike East Bay has been pushing alongside community leaders for a number bicycle and pedestrian improvements to increase accessibility and safety in Chinatown and under the freeway to the Jack London District.

Improvements are crucial in an area where people who walk or ride must currently navigate multiple freeway on- and off-ramps that feed onto neighborhood streets. Included in the Oakland Alameda Access Project will be a two-way cycle track on Oak Street, which will connect Embarcadero bike lanes with Lake Merritt BART and Laney College, and improved pedestrian-bike undercrossings of I-880 at Webster Street and Harrison Street. Simultaneously, as part of other large-scale planning efforts, we have been pushing for protected bike lanes on 3rd Street and 7th Street, and have been in discussions with Chinatown community leaders on building a two-way cycle track on Franklin Street potentially extending into Chinatown. 

We’re having ongoing discussions with AC Transit and with Chinatown community leaders on how to move forward on a variety of improvements including those listed above. The first example of this collaboration, coming later in 2021, are pedestrian improvements on 10th Street to better connect the Lincoln Recreation Center with the core of Chinatown.

Main Goal
The Oakland Alameda Access Project is a complex, expensive project, many years in the making. The main goal of the Oakland Alameda Access Project is to re-route City of Alameda traffic out of the core of Chinatown and more directly on to and off of I-880. Bike East Bay has been working with community leaders in Oakland and Alameda to ensure access for people who ride, walk, and take transit. Get the latest on this project: sign up for updates today