Plans to add a third eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and a bike and pedestrian path on the span’s upper deck was unanimously approved Wednesday by the Bay Area Toll Authority Oversight Committee.
The project, estimated to be competed by 2018 and cost roughly $74 million, still needs to pass both state and federal environmental review before moving forward. Caltrans will also need to approve the project, as it operates the bridge, but a representative with the agency spoke in support of the plans Wednesday, according to Bay City News.
The purposes of the project are to ease congestion on the evening bridge commute and to add a crucial link to the planned 500-mile San Francisco Bay Trail connecting 46 Bay Area cities.
To ease commute congestion, the proposed plan 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. On the upper deck, a 10-foot-wide bi-directional bicycle lane would be installed.
The bike path would be separated from traffic by a moveable concrete barrier system similar to the one that was just installed on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Bruce Beyaert, who chairs the Trail For Richmond Action Committee, called Wednesday’s vote “another milestone” for the Bay Trail link between Point Molate and Marin County.
Metropolitan Transportation Commissioner Steve Kinsey, also vice president of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, expressed strong support, Bay City News reported. He reportedly asked staff to find out how to expedite the project.
The business advocate group Bay Area Council expressed the need for commute hour relief, the newswire said.
To read more about the project, here’s the staff report and PowerPoint presentation.