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New Pedestrian/Bicycle Lane Opens on Carquinez Bridge

The new pedestrian/bicycle lane on the Alfred Zampa Memorial (Carquinez) Bridge opened on Sunday, May 16, 2004, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Congressman George Miller as keynote speaker.

Led by California Highway Patrol officers on bicycles, a crowd of bicyclists were the first to cross the bridge via the new path, followed by pedestrians. The 12-foot-wide path hugs the western side of the suspension bridge connecting Solano and Contra Costa counties along Interstate 80. The completion of the 1.6-mile-long path is the finishing touch to the new bridge, which opened to car and truck traffic in November 2003.

The ribbon-cutting event also served as a kickoff to this year’s Bike-to-Work Week, which culminated in Bike-to-Work Day on Thursday, May 20, 2004. “Caltrans is pleased to provide a safe, new transportation option for residents of the region,” said Caltrans Acting Director Tony V. Harris. “This bridge is another example of the Bay Area’s dedication to improving multimodal mobility.” Caltrans is responsible for the design, construction, and day-to-day management of the bridge project, while funding and oversight lay in the hands of the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), whose members also serve on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the transportation planning, funding and coordinating agency for the nine Bay Area counties.

Stretching from a vista point on the Vallejo side on the north to a planned landscaped trailhead with interpretive signage on the Crockett side at the southern end, the new path closes a major gap in the San Francisco Bay Trail that rings San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. It links existing trails along the Carquinez Strait and Bay shoreline and through Vallejo, and serves as a vital segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, which ultimately will encircle the region along an inland route. The path can be accessed from San Pablo Avenue near Merchant Street in Crockett or Maritime Academy Drive in Vallejo.

In addition to Congressman Miller and Caltrans District 4 Director Bijan Sartipi, speakers at the 10 a.m. ceremony included MTC/BATA Commissioner Mark DeSaulnier, who is also chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors; Duane Kromm, chair of the Solano County Board of Supervisors; Amy Worth, chair of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and mayor pro tem of the city of Orinda; Karin MacMillan, chair of the Solano Transportation Authority and mayor of the city of Fairfield; and Gene Pedrotti, chair of the Bridge Celebration Committee and representative of the Crockett Chamber of Commerce and of Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema, who could not attend the event.

“We thank the voters of the Bay Area for this wonderful facility,” said MTC/BATA’s DeSaulnier. “Their approval of Regional Measure 1 so many years ago provided the money that made this day possible.”
The new path brings the number of Bay Area toll bridges with a bicycle/pedestrian path to four, the others being the Golden Gate, Dumbarton, and Antioch bridges. (Shuttles are available on the other four bridges in the region.) The new path is open to wheelchair users, bicyclists, and pedestrians daily from sunrise to sunset; no rollerblades, skateboards, or dogs allowed.

A unique safety feature of the bike path will be the installation of 12 “dual” call boxes. Each call box site will consist of two call boxes attached to one pole—one call box facing the roadway for use by motorists in need of help—and a second call box facing the bicycle/pedestrian path for safe and easy use by those on the path. Spaced about 900 feet apart, seven of the boxes will be on the bridge itself, three on the Vallejo approach and two on the Crockett approach to the bridge. Call box calls will be answered from a dispatch center that can route calls to the appropriate source of help.
The total cost of the Alfred Zampa Memorial (Carquinez) Bridge was $500 million—paid for entirely by Regional Measure 1 bridge tolls. This amount covers the cost not only of the bridge itself and the bike/pedestrian path, but also the rebuilding of the I-80/Crockett interchange, construction of a maintenance facility, and new north and south approaches to the bridge, as well as the demolition of the old westbound span, which is scheduled to be completed in 2006.

The new westbound span of the Carquinez Bridge—named for the late Alfred Zampa, a local ironworker who helped build many of the Bay Area toll bridges—carries four lanes of traffic, including a carpool lane, and features two 10-foot-wide shoulders to ease the clearing of stalls and accidents.