Bay Bridge West Span Path
Pedestrians and bicyclists fell in love with the pathway that stretches from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island. Now a team is working to see if the path can be extended all the way to San Francisco.
Every year, thousands of residents and visitors enjoy the path on the East Span of the Bay Bridge, a 15-foot-wide path with panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay. Pedestrians and cyclists have used the path for over 700,000 trips since it opened in 2013.
Now the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), Caltrans, and a team of engineers and consultants are working to see if the path can be extended around Yerba Buena Island and across the West Span of the bridge all the way into downtown San Francisco.
If completed, the project also would allow bicyclists and pedestrians to cross the entire length of the bridge. It would also improve maintenance access for Caltrans crews — meaning fewer lane closures.
The West Span Design
Contractors submitted designs in 2016 and shared them with the public in 2018. A winning design was chosen for a path on the north side of the West Span of the Bay Bridge. This path would end in San Francisco at Essex Street.
On Yerba Buena Island, the East Span and West Span paths would connect on Southgate Road along the east side of Hillcrest Road.
Paying for the West Span path is the project’s biggest challenge.
Estimated costs for a project like this run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. No source of funding has yet been identified, and the project cannot be paid for with bridge tolls.
Paying for the path is not the only challenge – there are also design problems to solve so that the project can move forward. These include:
- Earthquake safety
- Dealing with strong winds
- Access for maintenance crews
- Making sure boats can still travel beneath the bridge
- Getting permission to use the land where the path will go (right-of-way acquisition)
- Access for people with disabilities, including people using wheelchairs
- Working around planned development in San Francisco and on Yerba Buena Island
- Connections to current street and road systems
- Environmental impacts
If a funding source can be identified, building the West Span path could be a 10-year project from start to finish. This would include:
- Up to three or four years to for first designs and environmental review
- Two years for final design and getting permission to use the land
- Up to four years for construction