As noisy and noxious as the Webster and Posey Tubes are for pedestrians, cyclists and automobile drivers who forget to close their sunroofs, there really is no viable estuary bridge option for Alameda’s west end.
Tonight Alameda City Council will be asked to accept the Estuary Crossing Feasibility Study. The goal is a noble one – find a way to improve upon the current bike/ped estuary crossing which is the narrow walkway along the eastern side of the Posey Tube. But the study shows that bridges just aren’t a practical, viable option.
Let’s go back to 2001 when City of Alameda staffer Debbie Potter – now a flunky for SunCal, who pays part of her salary for work on their project – said “But if we’re going to build out the full plan — especially the commercial and retail — we would need the additional capacity [in the Webster and Posey Tubes.” She was referring to the plan then to build roughly 1,600 homes, 4.5 million square feet of industrial and commercial space, and 100,000 square feet of retail on Alameda Point, and a cockamamie proposal to use ski gondolas to move people from Alameda Point over the estuary to the West Oakland BART station. (SunCal’s current plan calls for roughly 5,000 homes – or more, depending on how they abuse the density bonus law – at Alameda Point.)
The point is this – all manner of estuary crossing options have been studied, and none are viable due to the constraints placed on them by the Coast Guard’s use of the estuary, general maritime use of the estuary, the Port of Oakland extensive shipping terminals on the Oakland side, lack of financing or outrageous expense of options proposed, and a general dis-interest in Oakland for helping Alameda residents solve their problem of getting on and off the island, to name a few.
Now comes the estuary crossing feasibility study. The “Moveable, Low Height Option” Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge option would cost roughly $75 million to design and construct, and $1.5 million annual to operate. And according to the report, the 24 minutes of delay for bikers and pedestrians would make it unattractive for their use. And it’s not even clear who would pay for the design and construction funding, nevermind the on-going operations costs. Surely Oakland would expect Alameda to pay for construction and operation, as the bridge would serve to give Alameda residents access to the mainland.
Even more hysterical is the $170 million estimate for the design and construction of a Bike/Ped Moveable Bridge with Transit option. This option doesn’t even warrant it’s own paragraph in the city staff report to council.
The City of Alameda wasted $100,000 of Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority money, $100,000 of City of Alameda Measure B funds, and $10,000 of City of Oakland funds on this study, for a total of at least $220,000. Let’s hope this report puts the issue to bed and prevents the waste of any further public funds in these lean times.