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Tree Removal Marks Construction Start on Richmond-San Rafael Corridor Project

Construction crews are set to begin work this week on the first of a series of MTC-sponsored projects to relieve traffic congestion in the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge corridor by establishing a third eastbound lane on Interstate 580 from the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard on-ramp in Marin County to the Richmond Parkway/Point Richmond off-ramp in Contra Costa County. Phase 1 also includes construction of a barrier-separated bicycle/pedestrian path adjacent to westbound I-580 in Contra Costa County from Point Richmond to the Stenmark Drive/Point Molate off-ramp.

Drivers in the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge corridor likely will first notice the removal of several trees above the large retaining wall on the south side of the freeway between the Stenmark Drive/Point Molate on-ramp and the Richmond Parkway/Point Richmond off-ramp in Richmond.  Trees also will be removed near the westbound Stenmark Drive off-ramp just east of the toll plaza. Later in January, crews will begin shifting traffic lanes and installing temporary concrete barriers to separate workers and the construction areas from vehicular traffic.

To accommodate the third eastbound freeway lane and the new bicycle/pedestrian path, Phase 1 includes reconfiguring the San Quentin/Main Street on-ramp to eastbound I-580 with new retaining walls on each side. This will allow for a new on-ramp realignment to improve merging for traffic entering the freeway from San Quentin. Work crews also will replace shoulder pavement on both the west and east sides of the bridge to accommodate traffic loads; demolish the existing retaining wall on the south side of I-580 in Richmond; and replace it with a taller wall set farther back from the freeway to achieve safe sight distances for vehicles traveling in the new third eastbound lane. Construction is slated for completion by the summer of 2018, at which time new trees will be planted to replace those removed during the first stage of the project.  

MTC in late 2016 awarded a $27.2 million contract for Phase 1 construction to O.C. Jones and Sons Inc. of Berkeley. Two future contracts will be required to extend the bicycle/pedestrian path across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and to complete connections to the existing Bay Trail in Marin County. To separate bicyclists and pedestrians from westbound traffic on the upper deck of the bridge, a moveable concrete barrier will be installed. This will allow Caltrans to conduct bridge maintenance work during short closures of the path. The 10-foot-wide path will comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

MTC has budgeted a total of $73.6 million for all phases of the project, which is officially known as the I-580 Access Improvement Project. MTC’s partners include Caltrans, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Transportation Authority of Marin. Plans call for the third eastbound traffic lane to be open only during weekday peak periods. At the end of a four-year pilot period, the project’s performance will be evaluated to determine if the third eastbound lane and the bicycle/pedestrian path across Richmond-San Rafael Bridge should be made permanent or if the bridge should revert to pre-project conditions. 

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