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Friday, March 4, 2011

New Bike/Ped Bridge At Risk: $3 Million Already Spent

City Dilly Dallied, State Moves To Seize Funds:
South Bayfront Bike/Ped Bridge May Never Get Built

The people of Emeryville have been waiting for the South Bayfront bike/pedestrian bridge for more than a decade and now they may never see it at all.
City officials acknowledge the $13.5 million bridge, which is to cross the railroad tracks and connect the Bay Street mall to Horton Street near 53rd Street, is imperilled because of the Governor's plan to abolish redevelopment agencies state-wide.  City Hall it should be noted, is not so keen to acknowledge the bridge has been put in danger because of its own slow pace building it.

An early iteration of the bridge design:
$3.5 million may be lost forever
The State will consider next week, the fate of redevelopment agencies and should it be decided to abolish them, the South Bayfront bridge might not be possible to be built according to Helen Bean, the city's Economic Director.  She noted there could be a lawsuit to stop the Governor's plan from the California Redevelopment Association, a non profit legislative advocacy group forwarding the interests of redevelopment agencies.  At that point, according to Ms Bean, it would be "unclear what Emeryville's Redevelopment Agency could do" in terms of building the bridge.

Building the bridge has been a city priority for some 15 years but has been recently picking up speed.  The design aspect has been completed to the tune of $3.5 million and that money is not recoverable if the State stops Redevelopment Agency obligations for the remaining $10 construction contract.  In the best case scenario, the contract for construction could go out in June according to Ms Bean.

For the first seven years or so, the city moved slowly on building the bridge, fighting bike advocates as former City Manager John Flores together with the council majority pushed to keep bikes off the bridge preferring a pedestrian only span.  An engineering firm consequently was hired to design a pedestrian only bridge.  Former council member John Fricke built his campaign for election on building the bridge and making sure bikes would be able to use it as well.  Mr Fricke succeeded and the South Bayfront Bike/Pedestrian Bridge Committee was ultimately formed.  If the construction contract for the bridge is allowed, city officials say it should take 18 months to two years to complete the work.

The city's new general plan and the bike/ped advisory committee has explicitly stated the bridge is necessary for a livable town.  Ms Bean agreed and she weighed in on the consequences of a State revocation of redevelopment agencies, "If the [Emeryville] Redevelopment Agency is not able to build the bridge because of the Governor's proposal to dissolve redevelopment agencies, that would be a tragic loss for the city".

With Sacramento bearing down, the city is now facing the possibility that the whole endeavour will be for naught, considering that precious time was lost early in the fight over who would get to use the bridge.


  1. The city manager and council majority never wanted this bridge built in the first place. They will use any excuse to block it. They would rather give millions in taxes (redevelopment agency funds) to their developer friends like Rich Robbins and Pulte Homes than to use it on something that actually benefits residents.

  2. For about 30K. a nice ground level path could be made across the tracks. This could happen now. BTW, ever since people started complaining about the train noise, the horns have been blowing more than ever. Who would have thunk?

  3. Maybe this won't go through because there could be jail time for wasting taxpayer money in such a gross fashion.