For Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Automobile Commuters, a New Feeling: Hope

For morning commuters on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge who face a daily back-up that’s approaching 24 teeth-grinding minutes and can be much worse if anything goes wrong – the only option has been to grip the steering wheel tighter. But that may be changing. Today (March 13), the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) hired a firm to begin the planning process to open the third lane on the upper, westbound deck of the bridge to high-occupancy vehicles and transit in the morning and potentially beyond! BATA Executive Director Andrew Fremier and his team are actively working with Caltrans and Marin and Contra Costa county transportation agencies to work out relatively quick solutions. The Bay Area Council through our Common Sense Transportation Coalition, has been a leading advocate for opening the third lane to automobiles during the peak morning commute hours.
Each workday, 80,000 drivers cross the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, with many of them people of color and earning lower incomes. An experiment launched four years ago to convert the third lane into a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lane, meanwhile, has succeeded in attracting an average of just 18 morning weekday bikers despite millions spent installing the infrastructure and promoting cycling. 

The Council thanks BATA Chair Federal Glover, Marin and Contra Costa BATA commissioners Stephanie Moulton-Peters and Sue Noack, and Executive Director Fremier for making this happen. Special thanks to Assemblymember Damon Connolly, who has steadfastly pushed this issue, and the Richmond residents and bridge commuters who have written 19,259 letters to local elected officials calling for the change.  We will remain vigilant to ensure these changes go from plans to reality.

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