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Greenway bridge

Public invited to view proposed Greenway bridge that could become a Richmond tourist attraction

on December 8, 2022

It’s Bridge Week in Richmond and through Saturday, people can attend events that showcase the proposed Richmond Greenway Bridge over 23rd Street, a project that would close the Greenway trail’s remaining gap, providing an uninterrupted 17-mile biking and walking path from Berkeley to Marin County.

The proposal grew out of the Richmond Greenway Gap Study, which was funded by a $280,000 grant from the California Department of Transportation.

“It’s going to blow everyone’s minds. It’s going to be really cool!,” said Catherine Waller, an artist and West Contra Costa resident who attended Monday’s Bridge Week kickoff at Armistice Brewing Co.

Greenway bridge
People review plans for the proposed Greenway Bridge. (Beki San Martin)

The weeklong series of events is hosted by Pogo Park, a Richmond-based organization that works to rebuild city parks. Pogo Park collaborated with the city and Civic Well, a nonprofit that helps local governments implement sustainability projects, to carry out the study.

According to Patrick Phelan, infrastructure administrator in the Richmond Public Works Department, the project started in 2021 to close the final gap in the Richmond Greenway that divides the east and west portions of the trail. 

This is the first phase of the project. The next will be securing funding for construction, possibly from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, among other entities. Toody Maher, Pogo Park’s executive director, said the bridge is expected to cost between $30 million and $40 million to design and build. 

The trail used to be railroad tracks, which were converted in the early 2000s to a Greenway. It is divided by Carlson Boulevard, railroad tracks, and BART tracks, forcing users to exit and travel over half a mile to get back on. Closing the gap will allow for uninterrupted travel from the East Bay, across the San Francisco Bay, to Marin County. 

Greenway bridge
Toody Maher, executive director of Pogo Park, explains the Greenway bridge project during one of several Bridge Week events.

Phelan said there was a bridge over 23rd Street, but it was torn down in the 1980s because of an engineering error that mismeasured the bridge’s clearances. 

Maher calls the bridge’s destruction “Richmond’s original sin,” because it disconnected North Richmond, the Iron Triangle, and South Richmond from the commerce that coalesced in the eastern portion of Richmond.

“By taking that bridge down, it completely separated the western part from the eastern part and all the economic and social advantages that go with it. So this is like the healing, in my view. This is the healing of the sin that should have never happened,” Maher said.

With the bridge, people from the surrounding neighborhoods will be able to access the Greenway to reach a number of BART stations along the trail, connecting them to other Bay Area cities. 

“What we’re trying to also show is that this has regional significance. This is something that will allow you to get from Berkeley all the way to Marin without ever having to bike on the road,” Phelan said.

Residents played a role in the design. They were invited to meet architect Donald McDonald to inform a vision for the bridge and provide essential community knowledge, such as where the best takeoff and landing spots for the bridge would be. McDonald listened and came back with concepts, Maher said. His final design was inspired by the official bird of Richmond, the osprey. 

“They have fabulous bridges in Redding and fabulous bridges in London and fabulous bridges in Tokyo. People notice them and like them,” Waller said. “And I’m very thrilled. Poor old, downtrodden Richmond is going to get this fabulous, exciting thing.”

Phelan believes the bridge could be an attraction that people would come to Richmond to see. 

Greenway bridge
The proposed Greenway bridge design would resemble the osprey, Richmond’s city bird. (Beki San Martin)

Pogo Park spent 18 months getting public input on the project, holding meetings and going door to door, providing community members with information about the plan and inviting them to question-and-answer sessions that occurred throughout the year.

Community feedback from Bridge Week will be integrated into the Richmond Greenway Gap Study, which will be presented to the Richmond City Council in February. 

Maher estimates that once the plan is adopted by City Council, it will take about three years to secure funding to build the bridge and another three years to design and construct it, meaning it could be built in about six years.

All are welcome to view the bridge plan and provide feedback from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Farmers Market, 24 Barrett Ave.; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts.

“We want people to see this bridge, we want them to get excited. We want them to tell their friends and family, and tell their elected officials that this is important and we need to make this a priority,” Phelan said.

9 Comments

  1. bill on December 9, 2022 at 9:01 am

    “uninterupted”? I believe the pathway crosses several streets, requiring users to stop and wait for traffic lights and vehicles. Many of the roads crossing the pathway have no stop signs for vehicles. Parts of the pathway are long, but in many sections this is just a sidewalk between streets. Cyclists and other prospective users will continue to use the Bay Trail for longer travels and avoid this project. Local use will be appreciated, though.

  2. thielges on December 9, 2022 at 9:51 am

    How does this proposed bridge allow people to get from Richmond to Marin without getting on a road? I assume the intention is to link to the Richmond San Rafael bridge and once you’re on that bridge, you can reach Marin via a bike and pedestrian path. But how do you get from 23rd and the Richmond Greenway, where I presume the western end of this proposed bridge will touch down, to the eastern end of the RSR bridge? It looks like the Richmond greenway’s western extent is at about W. Ohio and Richmond Pkwy. Then what? I’d guess it is a matter of using streets to get around the railyard via Point Richmond and then on to the RSR bridge.

    What am I missing?

    • Skot on December 9, 2022 at 2:10 pm

      Cutting Blvd has had a very nice bike lane added to it recently, if a rider goes south at 2nd St it would be easy. The path is clear from there to the San Rafael Bridge.

      • thielges on December 9, 2022 at 3:32 pm

        Thanks, that gets a lot closer. I think you still end up riding on some smaller streets through Point Richmond to get to the RSR bridge trailhead. Railroad Ave. to Tewksbury for example.

    • Aimee on December 10, 2022 at 3:47 am

      The protected bike lane runs from Point Richmond to the greenway rn, and plans are in the works to continue it through the point (currently it resumes on Tewksbury).

  3. Skot on December 9, 2022 at 2:03 pm

    Map please?

  4. cking on December 9, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    I’m sure tourists will flock to Richmond to see this bridge. With all the homeless camps, litter on the streets, front lawns full of hoarded junk, and crime, they will be anxious to get here!! If they leave with their catalytic converter intact they will have something to brag about back home! This bridge will be magical!!

  5. Paula Kristovich on December 11, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    Appreciate the time & energy put into this important project. However, have concerns about the design, which seems flamboyant given the neighborhood. ( It would be fine as a sculpture out near the water.) I could imagine neighborhood people looking up & saying “Huh?! what’s that?” and wondering why so much $$$ was spent on a bridge when there are so many homeless. Would prefer a much simpler design that could perhaps incorporate a bike/pedestrian theme (wheel w/spokes in iron railing.) Also a bit disappointed that there was only one design presented during Bridge Week; seems like there could have been three very different choices.

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