“Bay Street Bridge” One Step Closer to Completion with Weekend Hoisting over Railroad Tracks

Published On December 21, 2020 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Planning & Development

The long-awaited South Bayfront Pedestrian/Bicycle bridge AKA “The Bay Street Bridge” took a big step toward completion this weekend as the distinct red bowstring truss was hoisted into place.

Ghilotti Construction Company out of Santa Rosa were given a 4-hour window when train thoroughfare was paused at the Union Pacific Railroad-owned tracks allowing them to hoist it into place.

The main bridge structure had laid dormant near the tracks near 53rd for over a month awaiting the provided window. At around 10 p.m. on Saturday evening, the 239,000 lb, 230-foot wide steel truss was lifted with a crawler crane to its permanent home across the tracks near Horton & 53rd.

Planning for the project goes all the way back to 2006 during Emeryville’s redevelopment-fueled “boomtown” era. The project fell into limbo in 2011 when a budget-strapped California abolished local redevelopment agencies which provided the primary funding for the bridge.

The city successfully sued the state to recoup the roughly $13 million set aside for the project. This decision was later upheld by an appeals courts.


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The southern area of Emeryville has long lacked pedestrian thoroughfare over the railroad tracks with the only access south of Powell street being the more car-centric 40th/Shellmound bridge.

The Powell street crossing lacks accessibility and visibility. This bridge will provide an east-west connection to Ohlone Way at the Bay Street shopping center.

Can The Bridge “Save” Bay Street?

Will the bridge be enough to save a ravaged Bay Street mall has become a topic of conversation and concern among residents. The mall was already under duress prior to the pandemic and has seen significant closures since.

“Hopefully Bay Street will rebound but at least there is a better walkway to snacks at Trader Joe’s!” noted one commenter on Facebook. Other residents expressed concern should either Barnes & Noble or AMC 16 shutter.

The upstairs food shed area at Bay Street recently underwent a substantial renovation but is completely vacant other than California Pizza Kitchen.

Photo of the concrete “switchback” ramps on the Bay Street side of the tracks (Photo: Ben Yee).

The cost of the bridge project is estimated at $22 million with additional costs still to come for connecting paths and the creation of Horton Landing Park on the east side of the train tracks.

The bridge will sit unused for awhile as the eastern connecting path is not expected to be completed until Summer 2021.

Planning for a bike-pedestrian connection over I-80 at Ashby is also underway.

“Nora Davis Bridge”?

The E’ville Eye teased naming the bridge after recently passed former councilmember Nora Davis who is credited with our city’s reinvention. The community reaction to the idea on social media was almost universally favorable.

Feature Image from Bay Street vantage point: Steve Roberts.

12/22 Correction: This story has been updated to reflect an error in the construction company’s name.

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

One Response to “Bay Street Bridge” One Step Closer to Completion with Weekend Hoisting over Railroad Tracks

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great to see progress but Ghilotti (contractor) is known to be the 800 lb gorilla when it comes to project change orders. After watching the city council and school board meetings over the years, Patz better be shouting from the roof tops about expectations and cost overruns. Otherwise he’s and empty suit (a large one at that).

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