Once seen as an impossible dream, a pedestrian and bicycle drawbridge from the west end of Alameda to Jack London Square in Oakland is progressing to the planning stage. The City is now developing a Project Initiation Document, which will position the project to receive funding for future phases, including construction.
A new bridge would create an easy-to-use, safe and enjoyable connection, filling the significant lack of walking and biking facilities between the West End of Alameda, Jack London Square, Downtown Oakland and beyond.
The project has been in development since the Estuary Crossing Study was published in 2009, identifying the bridge as the best choice for a long term option. Since then, the bridge has gathered support from local bike and pedestrian groups, as well as city and county planners, including the Alameda County Transportation Commission, Caltrans, and the City of Alameda’s General Plan 2040.
In early 2021, the Estuary Crossing Study: Detailed Feasibility and Travel Demand Analysis was published, which further explored a smaller set of crossing options and studied the technical feasibility of a bicycle/pedestrian bridge that meets the Coast Guard navigational requirements. The study concluded that such a bridge is feasible.
The proposed bridge would accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists, but not automobile traffic. It would be a lift bridge, which means the deck can be raised to allow boating traffic on the Estuary to pass safely underneath. This concept is similar to the Fruitvale railroad bridge, which still stands next to the current Fruitvale drawbridge, connecting the eastern end of the island with Oakland.
With state funding available from Measure B, passed in 2000, and Measure BB, passed in 2014, and vehicle registration fees, the City of Alameda is preparing to release an RFP for the Project Initiation Document. The City just presented their plans to the Measure DD Community Coalition in Oakland. Measure DD was passed in 2002 to create the Oakland Trust for Clean Water and Safe Parks.
This would not be Alameda’s first pedestrian-only drawbridge — the Bay Farm Island Bridge, originally constructed in 1953 added a second parallel span for pedestrian and bicycle traffic in 1995. That span holds the distinction of being the only pedestrian bascule drawbridge in the US.
Currently, Alameda is accessible to vehicle traffic by four bridges near the eastern end of the island and a pair of tunnels on the western end, connecting to Oakland and Bay Farm Island.
The City maintains a page of information about the plans for the bridge on their website.
Adam Gillitt is the Publisher of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected].