Alameda-Oakland pedestrian bridge needs public support, city officials say

A bike and pedestrian bridge linking Alameda and Oakland is in the planning process, but the project’s high costs and possible lack of public interest may hinder construction from ever starting, city officials warned at a recent public meeting. 

Bikers and pedestrians are currently constrained to three options linking Alameda to Oakland and only one of them puts walkers and bikers near the downtown area: the treacherous 36-inch-wide raised path that runs through the Posey Tube where an estimated 48,000 cars travel daily. 

A biker tries walking their bike through the Posey Tube path. | Photo courtesy of the City of Oakland

Planning for the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Bridge Project has been underway since 2009 when a partnership between the two cities was established and a feasibility study was completed. 

Alameda city officials have been leading the project and city records estimate around 5,300 people would use the bridge on a daily basis if it were to be completed. 

The most likely locations for the bridge are sites near Jack London Square, Estuary Park and the Howard Terminal, which was identified as the best possible location. 

"This [project] is much bigger than just Alameda or Oakland in terms of the connections that we could make with improving this crossing," Rochelle Wheeler, Alameda’s senior transportation coordinator, said at a July 6 meeting for the Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Infrastructure Committee.

An open-air path linking the two cities would have many economic benefits and help alleviate greenhouse gas emissions, a 2021 report found. 

However, completion of the project will have to include the approval of both cities, and state and federal authorities.

On top of that, the project is estimated to cost nearly $200 million, Alameda city records show, and it has to be able to make way for large container ships and Coast Guard boats that routinely patrol the area.

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A rendering by the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Bridge Project shows a possible path between the two cities. | Photo courtesy of the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Bridge Project

The project is already facing opposition, including from an Alameda City official.

Tony Daysong, a city council member, voted against Alameda spending money on the project, the Alameda Sun reported. Daysong was the sole vote against spending money to complete another round of studies for the project and said he favors an expansion for water taxis across the Estuary.

A new water taxi is expected to begin services in 2024. 

Construction on the bridge project, if approved, wouldn’t begin until at least 2030 and public interest is needed.

"This is a project that will ultimately need to be strongly supported at the grassroots level by the communities," Wheeler said. "If there’s not that interest… and not a lot of political support for this project, given the funding needs…, it may not be able to get much further."