Dotson Family Marsh, Atlas Road Bridge to be dedicated Saturday

Dotson Family Marsh, Atlas Road Bridge to be dedicated Saturday
Photograph taken in February shows Dotson Family Marsh's new staging area with parking spaces. (Courtesy of EBRPD)

Two recently completed projects totaling $46 million at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline in Richmond — the Atlas Road Bridge and Dotson Family Marsh — are each set for a public dedication hosted by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) on Saturday, April 22.

The projects together represent the largest park investment in EBRPD history and provide “unprecedented shoreline access to a traditionally underserved community,” General Manager Robert Doyle said in a statement.

The event on Saturday begins at 11 a.m. at Atlas Road Bridge. After the dedication, there will be a one-mile walk to the boardwalk at Dotson Family Marsh, near the Point Pinole main parking lot, where another ceremony will start at 1 p.m.

What follows is background behind both projects:

Atlas Road Bridge

Atlas Road Bridge is an $11 million project providing an additional entrance and staging area to Point Pinole. The new bridge spans the Union Pacific tracks below. It serves both vehicles and pedestrians and is ADA-compliant. The bridge also connects to the San Francisco Bay Trail.

The new Atlas Street bridge spans the Union Pacific tracks below. (by Brant Ward)

The bridge is part of a multi-phase project that will eventually include the construction of additional picnic areas, a new playground and a route to a new interpretive center for the park.

This project was funded through local bond Measure CC, the City of Richmond and grantors including California State Parks, California Natural Resources Agency and Contra Costa Transportation Authority.

A view of the pedestrian and bike access to the new Atlas Street bridge. (by Brant Ward)
A sign announces the newly completed bridge project. (by Brant Ward)

Dotson Family Marsh

Formerly known as Breuner Marsh, the 150-acre shoreline site was spared from development with significant help from the Dotson family. For years, the Dotsons led the Parchester Village community’s opposition to various proposals that included housing, an airport, industrial complex and transit center.

The Rev. Richard Dotson fought valiantly to keep the marsh wild and open, and his son Whitney Dotson, a current EBRPD board member, continued the fight.

In 2011, the land was acquired by the Park District following a three-year eminent domain case. It has since undergone an extensive $14 million habitat restoration and public access project funded by more than 10 agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the East Bay Regional Park District through local bond Measures CC and WW.

Photograph taken in February shows Dotson Family Marsh’s new staging area with parking spaces, restroom. (Courtesy of EBRPD)

“The newly restored marsh is designed to be a self-sustaining wetland complex that will filter polluted run-off and provide high quality habitat for threatened and endangered species, such as the ridgeway rail and the salt marsh harvest mouse,” according to EBRPD. “The project also includes a 1.5-mile extension of the San Francisco Bay Trail, helping to close the remaining 10 miles of Bay Trail gaps within Richmond’s current 32 miles of existing trail, and providing the first safe, non-motorized access to Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. It also includes a 24-space parking lot, restroom and picnic area.”

$46 Million Investment

The combined total spent at Point Pinole includes $20.3 million to acquire both Dotson Marsh and Atlas Bridge properties, $14 million for the restoration project, and $11.7 million for the new entrance at Atlas Road Bridge.

Photo of Dotson Family Marsh taken April 3 shows view of Bay, new trail. (by Brant Ward)
A boardwalk section provides access over the marsh. (by Brant Ward)
Signs point out new views and highlights because of the new entrance. (by Brant Ward)
Grasses and water share the marsh space looking west. (by Brant Ward)