Completion of the Bay Bridge's eastern span bike path could be delayed yet again, after engineers have determined that the design of the unbuilt portion may not meet structural safety standards. The current design is itself a redesign of the original bike path, which in 2014 was deemed visually unappealing and reworked for aesthetic reasons at a cost of over a million dollars. It is this new design which has some Caltrans engineers calling for a reevaluation of the to-be-built section of the bike path.
This is at least the fourth delay on the project, which will finally connect the dead-end bike path to Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island. (Bicycling all the way to San Francisco won't be possible for at least another decade.)
The path's most recent scheduled opening date was for the summer, after its early 2016 target was pushed. It now seems that even the summer 2016 date was too optimistic. The Chronicle notes that the original design employed angled steel braces serving as support. In May of 2014, however, Caltrans' three architects on the project decided the support contributed to a lack of visual cohesiveness.
“It’s really quite simple,” Clive Endress, one of the three, explained to the paper. “There is an architecture vocabulary, and this fights with the overall design of the bridge.” And so the support system was redesigned — at the cost of an additionally delayed opening and $1.1 million — however the current chief engineer on the project now say that the redesign may not be structurally sufficient.
For those walking or riding on the Bay Bridge bike path for the first time, it can be a jarring experience. Image traveling for almost two mile along a path only to have it end, seemingly for no apparent reason, just shy of Yerba Buena Island.
Bicycle advocates appear resigned to the repeated delays, with Renee Rivera of Bike East Bay neatly summing up the situation to the Chronicle.
“Right now, we call it the world’s longest bike pier — it doesn’t go anywhere,” mused Rivera. “It’s very disappointing that it’s become a date that just keeps sliding ... and we still don’t have a date we can count on.”
Caltrans bridge construction manager Steve Whipple told the paper that he hoped an additional redesign wouldn't be necessary, but as of now no knows whether current plans will have to be scrapped or not.
As for Endress? Well, he's sure everything is going to work out fine.
“I am optimistic they are going to find a way to solve the connection problems and move forward with the beautiful bridge," he noted.
Previously: Delays Continue To Mount On Bay Bridge Bike Path