Jan 23, 2015

A $74 million project undergoing environmental review would add a third eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and a bike/pedestrian path on the span’s upper deck.

On Friday, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt forwarded a project fact sheet from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority that estimates the vehicle lane and bike/ped path could be completed by 2018.

The project would convert the existing shoulder on eastbound I-580 to a third travel lane between Marine Street in Contra Costa County and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Marin County.

The plan also includes a bi-directional bicycle lane on the upper deck. The 10-foot-wide bike/ped lane would be separated from traffic by a moveable concrete barrier system similar to the one that was just installed on the Golden Gate Bridge.

(click below image to enlarge)

bikepath2.1-23The project is not cheap. The eastbound lane portion is estimated to cost $30 million, while the bike/ped path is estimated at $29 million. A $15 million contingency was included in the total estimate.

But the project isn’t so simple. The wall along eastbound I-580 will need to be removed so that the highway can be widened to accommodate a third lane:

bikelane.4-1-23The bicycle and pedestrian path would add another crucial link to the planned 500-mile San Francisco Bay Trail connecting 46 Bay Area cities.

On Tuesday, legislation was introduced requiring the design phase of the eastbound lane to begin while the project is undergoing environmental review. That could speed up the project by up to 18 months, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

“This project will reduce commute times substantially,” Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, told the IJ. “Congestion on the bridge extends all the way to Highway 101 and affects not only commuters on the bridge, but also commuters heading north.”

Here is the projected timeline for the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge proposals:



  1. Being I ridden a motorcycle over the Richmond/San Rafael bridge in different type of weather, its no picnic in a high wind or a rain when crossing over the bridge. Having said that the question remands how many bicyclists will use the to justified the hug expense of building a bike lane. The alternative should be to have a shuttle only for the bicycles and pedestrian that could do a loop from San Rafael to Richmond every half an hour or so. Even if it cost a million dollars year it would be seventy four years of justification, it would be the same as building a bike lane and would free up the space for a third lane.

    The Odd Duck | Jan 26th, 2015
  2. Wow, sounds really dangerous! Are there any local advocacy organizations who could work with Caltrans/CHP to help keep motorcycles off of the bridge during high winds? Maybe some of the existing FASTRAK signs could say HIGH WIND – NO MOTORCYCLES, and they could be turned around at the toll booths. The other direction would probably be more expensive, but at least this would be a start. Ride safe!

    Greg Merritt | Feb 1st, 2015
  3. If the wind is high enough they will shut down the bridge as the winds could topple over big rigs and cause small cars to be pull out there lane an into another cars. The motorcycle had a enough horse power to muscle get me to the other side. What a bicycle there is a good chance that you and your bike would be brace on the side of a guard rail with yourself in a ball waiting to the wind to die down before going again. BTW if they had a high wind warning sign in place I would have turn back.

    The Odd Duck | Feb 2nd, 2015
  4. Most of that $75 million is to add an additional car lane and to make the bike lane temporary by using the movable barrier. How long will it be before they decide to take the bike lane away by removing the barriers?

    Opus the Poet | Jan 26th, 2015
  5. The enormous bike/ped traffic on the golden gate in all types of weather – and to a lesser extent even on the bay bridge which is literally a bridge to nowhere – sure doesn’t support your argument.

    CTM | Jan 27th, 2015
  6. Without having an accurate account of the bicycles that use the bridge from day to day there is no way to tell how many bicycles use it. Also the Golden Gate bridge I believe had the sidewalks in from day one. It just economic sense to use a shuttle rather to spend million of dollars on something a few will use. BTW I was on the Richman/San Rafael bridge in a very high wind on a full dress motorcycle. Let me tell you what it like when you are wondering if you are going make it to the other side.

    The Odd Duck | Jan 27th, 2015
  7. A bike/ped shuttle is not the same as a bike/ped path. The cost of bike/ped infrastructure is pennies compared to auto-infrastructure. If you build it, they will come (cyclists and pedestrians, that is)

    Dominic | Aug 21st, 2015
  8. Being I did drive on the third lane back in the 70’s and its was close to lay a pipe during the drought of 76-77, with some minor changes it could be setup for automobile traffic.

    The Odd Duck | Aug 21st, 2015

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.