Clearing the Air on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Traffic
North Bay Assembly member Damon Connolly on Monday (July 17) joined Richmond City Council member Cesar Zapeda and other Richmond community leaders for a press conference to call on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Caltrans to accelerate improvements on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge that will ease traffic backups and the air pollution it causes. Connolly emphasized how westbound morning traffic congestion not only worsens the commute for the estimated 18,000 mostly service workers that cross the span it also sends harmful tailpipe and other emissions into nearby Richmond neighborhoods. Joining Connolly and Zapeda were Richmond NAACP President Willie Robinson, Coronado Neighborhood Council President Joe Fisher, Santa Fe Neighborhood Councilmember Vern Whitmore and Bay Area Council Chief Operating Officer John Grubb.
The Common Sense Transportation Coalition , a project launched by the Bay Area Council, is advocating for changes that would ease the backup. The changes include opening a little-used bike lane on the upper deck to westbound automobiles, moving thebike lane to the lower deck in the morning when the eastbound commute is light and restoring the bike lane to the upper deck in the afternoon. Zipper trucks like those used on the Golden Gate Bridge would be deployed to move the lanes. It’s a proven solution. An earlier project to open a third lane on the lower deck effectively eliminated afternoon congestion on the Marin side of the bridge.
Connolly and others said Richmond deserves the same treatment. And getting vehicles moving can dramatically reduce the concentration of tailpipe emissions wafting over residential neighborhoods in Richmond. Other changes include removing antiquated toll booths and improving the freeway approach network on both sides of the bridge. Much of the funding for the improvements already exists, approved by voters in 2018 under Regional Measure 3, which the Council helped conceive and pass. Now, MTC and Caltrans just need to get the project moving.