Thursday, January 17, 2008

Work On Old Benicia Bridge To Add Bike/Walking Path Will Take Time

Work On Old Benicia Bridge To Add Bike/Walking Path Will Take Time
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | January 16, 2008

Traffic moves over the old Benicia Bridge. The southbound lanes, pictured to the left, are the only ones now used since the new bridge opened. Photo by File Photo.

BENICIA - Another two years could pass before the extra space on the original Benicia Bridge becomes an additional lane for traffic and a bike/walking path.

'There's a lot of work to be done,' said Keith Wayne, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

Caltrans has awarded a contract for the work. The plan calls for adding a fourth lane for southbound traffic on the old bridge. A fifth lane will be a path for bicyclists and pedestrians on the west side of the bridge.

Extra space is available because a new Benicia Bridge opened last year to carry northbound traffic. The 1962 bridge now carries only southbound traffic.

But the project will take time because the state also plans to reconstruct and realign portions of the Interstate 680 and Marina Vista interchange in Contra Costa County near the bridge.

Caltrans can keep traffic flowing during the interchange reconstruction by using northbound lanes there that are no longer used since the new Benicia Bridge opened.

'We want to use this opportunity to do this work while we have room to maneuver,' Wayne said.

The state doesn't want to open another lane on the old Benicia Bridge to traffic until the work on the Marina Vista interchange is complete, he said.

Meanwhile, local cyclist Glen Grant anticipates the day that the 1962 bridge will get its bike and pedestrian path.

'Right now, there's is absolutely no way for a cyclist to get across the Benicia Bridge,' said Grant, a Fairfield resident who sits on the Solano Transportation Authority Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Caltrans no longer provides van service over the bridge for cyclists, he said. The only way across the Carquinez Strait for cyclists is to take the Carquinez Bridge several miles west in Vallejo.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at

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