The ongoing effort to make Treasure Island a thing hits a new milestone Sunday, as a new and more modern eastbound off-ramp to Yerba Buena Island opens Sunday morning, and bicyclists will be able to access the islands (from the Oakland side) seven days a week.
There has been a years-long effort to make Treasure Island happen as a destination, as the little-utilized, afterthought island supposedly has 8,000 new housing units on the way, and with the new Treasure Island Ferry having started up in 2022. And for Treasure Island to happen will, to some degree, require making the adjacent and much smaller Yerba Buena Island happen too, because Yerba Buena Island is the only way for automobiles to access Treasure Island.
The new Bay Bridge off-ramp will provide new access to Yerba Buena and Treasure islands. Will it also help congestion? https://t.co/ix2DBUvyMr— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) May 4, 2023
And so that end, the Chronicle reports a new Bay Bridge Yerba Buena Island off-ramp is opening Sunday, May 7, at 7 a.m. sharp. The off-ramp will only serve eastbound I-80 traffic (from San Francisco), and there is already an off-ramp there, but this one hopes to reduce congestion of eastbound traffic across the bridge. A rendering of the new off-ramp is seen below.
“Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island are growing due to development. With that development comes the need for some greater capacity with the ways on and off the island,” SF County Transportation Authority spokesperson Eric Young told the Chronicle.
The Caltrans video above shows what using the new off-ramp would look like for a motorist, and if you’ve ever actually got off on the current Yerba Buena Island off-ramp, you’ll notice this one is different because the exit is on the right lanes rather than the current left-lane exit. Both will stay open “for a couple of weeks,” per the Chronicle, but the old one will eventually close for a period of years while Caltrans does a seismic retrofit of the bridge’s western span.
And here’s an image to give you a geographic sense of where the new off-ramp will be located, and how much larger Treasure Island is compared to Yerba Buena Island.
Again, there are no current changes coming for westbound (from Oakland) automobile traffic. But there is a big change coming for westbound bicyclists, who will now be able to access the Bay Bridge bike path to Yerba Buena Island seven days a week. (That bike path had previously been open only on weekends.)
But there’s only a bike path on the Oakland-side eastern span of the Bay Bridge, not on the San Francisco-side western span. And golly, it just dawned on me that this coming Labor Day weekend will mark the ten-year anniversary of the opening of that "new" eastern span. But if San Francisco officials really want to make Treasure Island happen, they might want to consider adding bike access on the Bay Bridge western span to give people more actual ways to get there.
Image via SF County Transportation Authority