Pedestrian/Bike Lane at the Benicia-Martinez Bridge Set to Open
Be one of the very first to ride or walk across the newest bridge pedestrian/bicycle lane in the Bay Area. On Saturday, August 29, 2009, the 2.2 mile pedestrian/bike path on the Benicia-Martinez Bridge (George Miller, Jr. Memorial Bridge) will officially open. Bicyclists or pedestrians using this new path will be treated to stunning views of Suisun Bay, as well as the Carquinez Bridge and the Mothball Fleet. The path is a 12-foot-wide bidirectional lane separated from vehicular traffic by a concrete barrier and will be open 24 hours a day. The lane is mostly flat with a gradual slope and meets ADA requirements for people with disabilities who might be riding in a wheelchair.
The path runs along the older of the pair of spans that make up the Benicia-Martinez Bridge. Traffic was allowed to flow continuously while the span was reconfigured to accommodate the new facility. “The most difficult part of installing the bike path was that the old span needed structural repairs to the deck before we could begin putting in the striping and the concrete barrier for the bike lane. Traffic on the bridge had to be shifted right and left during construction but the bridge never had to be completely closed,” said Rod McMillan, director of Bridge Oversight and Operations for MTC’s Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). The bike lane was part of a $50 million bridge rehabilitation project funded by BATA and the work was completed by Caltrans.
The pedestrian/bicycle path will close a gap in the San Francisco Bay Trail while also linking the San Francisco Bay Trail with the Bay Area Ridge Trail that encircles the bays at the ridgeline (the two trails share an alignment along the bridge). This lane also serves as a link in the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail, which is a 50-mile trail that crosses both the Benicia-Martinez Bridge and the Al Zampa span of the Carquinez Bridge. According to Laura Thomson, Bay Trail project manager at the Association of Bay Area Governments, This is a milestone project that has been in the works a long time and we are all very excited to see its completion. The San Francisco Bay Trail currently covers 290 miles; the eventual goal is to encircle San Francisco and San Pablo bays with 500 miles of uninterrupted biking and hiking trails.
The Benicia Bridge structure crosses the Carquinez Strait between Contra Costa County and Solano County. It is comprised of two separate bridges, named for father and son (the late Senator George Miller Jr. and current Congressman George Miller III), making the Benicia-Martinez Bridge a unique landmark. The 2007 addition, the George Miller III Memorial Bridge, carries five lanes of northbound Interstate 680 traffic from Martinez to Benicia. The original George Miller Jr. Memorial Bridge carries four lanes of southbound Interstate 680 traffic. When it opened in 1962, it had three lanes of traffic going in each direction. As part of this recent work, the six lanes have been divided up. Four lanes carry motor traffic, and the two remaining lanes have been converted into the pedestrian/bicycle path. Shoulders have also been added on both sides to make the bridge safer.
This is the fifth Bay Area bridge to offer pedestrian/bicycle access, the others being the Antioch, Carquinez, Dumbarton and Golden Gate bridges. BATA contributed $50 million in Regional Measure 1 bridge toll funds (approved by Bay Area voters in 1988) to reconfigure the old span and add the bike lane.
For more details and to download the full invitation, click here (PDF).
Save the date and plan on being one of the first to bike or walk the Benicia-Martinez bridge!
- Caltrans News Release: New Lanes to Open on Southbound Benicia-Martinez Bridge (PDF)
July 29, 2009