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There Is No Viable Estuary Crossing Option In Alameda’s West End

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.

6 comments to There Is No Viable Estuary Crossing Option In Alameda’s West End

  • Jayne Smythe

    Brings it all into perspective, don’t it? Thanks for reporting on this. Maybe certain transportation types will finally stop banging that little drum, especially since the County has threatened to shut the bridges at night (though we know they cannot do it because of the safety issues)…

  • It’s genuinely a noble goal, to try to find a solution to this problem, but it’s pretty clear there isn’t a viable bridge option. It was clear long ago – and $220,000 ago.

  • Detailer

    Sad to hear that the residents of Alameda, too, are victims of the perverse moral and ethical situation when a developer pays a City for the payroll costs of specific City staff member.

    This is happening all over California. Local government employees who would not have a job but for the developer’s checks pandering to the companies who fund their positions.

    There is actually a Federal criminal statute, which has been used to prosecute elected officials and government employees, for failure to deliver honest services to voters and taxpayers. Unfortunately, in California, this statute has largely been used by Republican appointed U.S. Attorneys to prosecute black, Latino and the occasional white Democrat politician and public employee. Oddly, Chicago has been blessed with a U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, who is not afraid to prosecute anyone under this statute. He is the U.S. Attorney prosecuting Blagojevich and all of his pals for conduct very similar to what goes on in city halls across California on a daily basis.

    We can only hope that when California has new U.S. Attorneys that the same standard of unbiased conduct will be enforced against all morally, ethically and intellectually corrup public employees and elected officials, regardless of race, color or political affiliation. When that appointment of a new U.S. Attorney or two in the Bay Area happens, it will be time for honest citizens to start sending letters of complaint about conduct and speech by city employees whose loyalties are questionable.

  • Detailer

    For the young lady who is the City of Alameda employee loyal to SunCal, and for the Mayor of Alameda who agreed to make robo-calls for the SunCal initiative, here’s some important reading to illustrate that you can get into a whole lot of trouble:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-norton17-2009sep17,0,6215749.story

    It’s a story about a criminal investigation of a former Bush Cabinet member for “failure to render honest services to the public”. It can happen to you too ladies.

  • honest civil servant

    It seems that the statute of limitations in California is three years from discovery. (I’m sure the attorneys who participate in this blog can provide additional insight.) Lots of time for Alameda citizens to bring evidence to the attention of the authorities.

  • Robert

    I have a simple and cost-efficient solution — get a small ferry boat that runs on 1/2 hour round-trip schedule between Oakland and Alameda.

    PROBLEM SOLVED. A profit may even be possible!

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