Every year, thousands of residents and visitors enjoy the path on the East Span of the Bay Bridge, a 15-foot-wide walking and biking path with panoramic views of San Francisco Bay that ends at Yerba Buena Island. Now a team is working to extend the path – called the "Bay Skyway" – so that it links Oakland and the greater East Bay with both Treasure Island and downtown San Francisco.
The Bay Skyway is a critical segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail which, when complete, will give hikers, joggers, bicyclists, skaters and wheelchair users access to more than 500 miles of trails encircling the bay. With the rapid adoption of electric bicycles (e-bikes), the Bay Skyway will also provide an alternative for Bay Area residents to cross the Bay without adding to roadway or transit congestion.
The Bay Skyway is included in Plan Bay Area 2050 as part of the "Build Complete Streets Network" strategy to promote walking, biking and small electric micromobility vehicles (such as e-scooters) throughout the Bay Area.
The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), Caltrans District 4, San Francisco County Transportation Authority and Alameda County Transportation Commission are working on several projects in two phases to extend the path and connect downtown San Francisco and the East Bay.
Bay Skyway Current Projects
Two key components of the Bay Skyway are currently undergoing environmental review. The West Oakland Link will extend the existing San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB) East Span path further to the east by constructing the missing connection to West Oakland. It will connect with planned protected bike lanes on Grand Avenue to Downtown Oakland.
The Yerba Buena Island Multi-use Path will connect the East Span path to new electric ferry service (starting in 2025) between Treasure Island and downtown San Francisco. (There is interim, limited-schedule ferry service to serve the current residents of Treasure Island. This will remain operable until the new San Francisco Bay Ferry service begins.) The current Bay Skyway projects connecting the East Bay to downtown San Francisco via the Treasure Island ferry are planned to open in 2027.
Details of Bay Skyway Current Projects
Map of Current Projects
In this map, the yellow line indicates the existing bicycle/pedestrian pathway on the East Span of the Bay Bridge. Orange lines in San Francisco and the East Bay indicate existing bicycle network paths. The pink line in Oakland shows the proposed West Oakland Link path. The Yerba Buena Island multi-use path is indicated with the pink line that connects the west end of the East Span path with the Treasure Island Ferry. The pink lines in the water between Treasure Island and San Francisco indicate present and future ferry routes.
Timeline and Funding Opportunities
The West Oakland Link and Yerba Buena Island multi-use path are undergoing separate environmental reviews, which are expected to be completed in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Detailed design for both projects is expected in 2024 and both should open by 2027. Electric ferry service is planned to begin in 2025.
Current Bay Skyway projects are estimated to cost approximately $128 million to construct, including the West Oakland Link, the Yerba Buena Island path, electric vessel(s) and required electric charging infrastructure.
Competitive California state grants, including the Active Transportation Program and the Senate Bill 1 Solutions for Congested Corridors Program and Local Partnership Program are being pursued to fund these projects, along with other potential funding sources.
Bay Skyway Phase 2 on the Bay Bridge West Span
The Bay Skyway Phase 2 project will construct a bicycle and pedestrian pathway on the Bay Bridge West Span, which will allow a continuous walk, bike and e-bike route between the East Bay and San Francisco. This project will rely on Phase 1 to connect the West Span path to the thousands of new residents on Treasure Island, to the East Span path and to downtown Oakland via the West Oakland Link.
The Bay Skyway will help shift transbay trips to walking, biking, and other micromobility (e-scooter, e-skateboard, etc.) options, which will reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, while providing low-cost transportation options for Bay Area residents.
West Span Path Details
West Span Path Design
Contractors submitted designs in 2016 and shared them with the public in 2018. A design was chosen for a path on the north side of the West Span of the Bay Bridge. This path will end in San Francisco at Essex Street.
On Yerba Buena Island, the East Span and West Span paths will connect to a new pathway parallel to Hillcrest Road.
West Span Path Video
Watch the video to learn more about the proposed West Span Path.
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 and no source of funding has yet been identified. State and Federal environmental analysis, the next step in the Phase 2 project, may be completed in 2024. If funding is secured, Phase 2 could open as early as 2030.
Design problems to solve so that the project can move forward include earthquake safety, strong winds, access for maintenance crews, maintaining boat clearance, connections to existing bicycle/pedestrian network and environmental impacts.
Map of Bay Skyway Phase Two: West Span Path
In this map, the blue line indicates the proposed Bay Skyway Phase 2: West Span Path. The yellow line indicates the existing bicycle/pedestrian pathway on the East Span of the Bay Bridge. Orange lines in San Francisco and the East Bay indicate existing bicycle network paths. The pink line in Oakland shows the proposed West Oakland Link path. The Yerba Buena Island multi-use path is indicated with the pink line that connects the west end of the East Span path with the Treasure Island Ferry. The pink lines in the water between Treasure Island and San Francisco indicate present and future ferry routes.
Gavin Lohry, BATA Project Manager, Transportation Planning and Operations
Phone: (415) 778-6676