Caltrans and The SFCTA pulled the curtain off of the latest improvements to the Yerba Buena off-ramp and bike/ped trail over the weekend. The Southgate Road Interchange Project is on the verge of completion nearly 10 years after the new Bay Bridge debuted to the public and 6 years after the path connection to Vista Point was completed.
This project provides a safer off-ramp for vehicles and seven day a week access to Treasure Island for East Bay cyclists and pedestrians via Macalla Road.
Previous access to Treasure Island via Hillcrest required sharing the road with motorists and was considered daunting to recreational and family bikers. Macalla access provides mostly protected, albeit fairly steep, access for cyclists (make sure your brakes are tuned!). Weekend recreational access has been available for over a year.
Cyclists should expect a fair amount of construction barricades and more than a few wonky connection points (watch the video in the feature area for a sped-up fly-through).
Bike/Ped access, unlike that for vehicles it’s been noted, will only be during daylight hours from 6 a.m to 9 p.m.
A bike path on the western span of the Bay Bridge that would complete the path to SF has been studied but the best-case projections have it being built by 2030. Costs are projected to exceed $124 million.
New Eastbound off-ramp to Yerba Buena Opens for Vehicle Traffic
In addition to expanded bike/ped access, the new $100 million eastbound off-ramp to Yerba Buena Island will improve bus and motorist access to Treasure Island.
San Francisco officials hope to develop thousands of new homes (both affordable and market rate), retail and commercial space, and hotel rooms. City plans have touted Treasure Island as San Francisco’s newest emerging neighborhood.
Treasure Island is expected add 8,000 homes by 2036.
“It’s a much better connection to the island,” said Bart Ney, a spokesman for Caltrans. “There’s all kinds of development.”
The ramp exits the lower deck of the Bay Bridge in the far-right lane just past the tunnel. It replaces an existing eastbound offramp on the far-left lane, which will stay open for several weeks to give motorists time to adjust, Caltrans said.
From a highway design perspective, Ney said, “It’s improved geometry from what it was.” Trucks and buses have been known to get stuck in the tight turns of the existing offramp.
The new ramp is better, but still tight — “There just isn’t a lot of real estate to play with out there,” Ney said. It is intended to improve safety by separating traffic merging onto the bridge.
The original alignment of the ramp was closed almost 20 years ago to accommodate work on Treasure Island’s Southgate Road, which is now complete.
Yerba Buena and Treasure Island are about halfway between San Francisco and Oakland. The two are commonly confused. Yerba Buena is a hilly, natural island, while Treasure Island is larger, manmade and flat, created in the 1930s.
Treasure Island was first used as the site of the Golden Gate International Exposition that opened in 1939. It was converted to a Navy base during World War II. Most of Yerba Buena Island is a U.S. Coast Guard station. The islands are linked by a causeway.
“It’s got a great history,” Ney said. “It looks like it’s going to have a great future.”
A more complete timeline of anticipated housing and transportation projects can be viewed on SFCTA.org.