The $68m Bridge Too Far

The $68m Bridge Too Far

Many Marinites and East Bay residents suffer at the hands of acute delays on both 580 and 101 in the evenings caused by the evening backup on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. The fix is on the way drivers have been told thanks to a $70.3m project set to:

  • add an additional third lane that operates during the evening peak towards Richmond
  • construct a bike path the length of the bridge span

Planning for Reality questioned just how this $70.3m was allocated between the additional lane – likely a striping and signage exercise – and the bike path.  Today the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – the Bay Area’s regional transit authority – responded.

The $68m Bike Path (was $53m)

The breakdown, shown right in MTC’s response is as follows:

MTC's project cost breakdown

MTC’s project cost breakdown

  • Bike path: $53m
  • Peak period third car lane: $15m
  • Initial project development costs: $2.3m
  • Not shown – cost to replace bike access path: $15m

UPDATE: Note at the bottom of page 12:

Please note that the peak period (3rd) lane use may result in the loss of existing bicycle access in Contra Costa County from Pont Molate to Richmond on I-580 shoulder. The estimate cost to replace this access is $15 million and was not included in the $70 million estimate

Take a look at those numbers again, now consider the number of people who would benefit from the projects:

  • Cars on 580 peak hour: 6,100
  • Cars on 101 peak hour: 14,000
  • Avg #car occupants: 1.13
  • #hours peak commute: 2
  • Total people affected: 45,426

According to the latest 2013 Walk Bike Marin bike counts the average Marin bike path has 53 riders per hour, so here’s the bike path math:

  • Cyclists on the Richmond  Bridge peak hour: 53
  • Riders per bike: 1
  • #hours peak commute: 2
  • Total people affected: 106

The figure of 106 cyclists benefiting from the bridge’s bike path is likely optimistic. The Richmond San Rafael Bridge is 5.5 miles long, compare this to the Golden Gate which is just 1.7 miles, throw in high crosswinds and you realize just how few cyclists will actually use this path – far fewer than the Marin bike path average of 53 per hour.

So if we look at the net benefit per person for each project here’s how that looks. Also added in is the $40m for the Greenbrae Corridor Project that would significantly improve traffic flow on both 580 and 101 (see video courtesy of Sean Mayer).

Bridge Cost ComparisonThe small handful of 106 cyclists each receive a net benefit from the tax payer equivalent to $504,717.

The car lane projects benefit 45,426 people.  Thrown in for good measure is the Marin Emergency Radio Authority project, requiring $40m that would benefit the 258,365 residents of Marin.

All of the other projects provide a benefit well under $1,000 per person. A tiny fraction of the bike path’s benefit per user.



How Did We Get to $68m?

Here are some of the bigger ticket items within the $68m bike path cost:

  • Removable barrier: $6.9m
  • Barrier Transfer Machine: $2.4m
  • Security Cameras: $3.7m
    This cost was based on the cost of cameras for the 0.66 mile Zampa Bridge which was $615,00 and multiplying the costs by 5.
  • Lighting: $1.1m
  • Annualized operating costs $21.9m
  • Roadway additions: $4.1m
  • Cost of replacing bike path access: $15m

$68m on a Bike Path – Just What Are We Thinking?

Spending $68m on a bike path underscores the heady, decadent extravagance of the “multi-modal” transit brigade. One has to ask who approved this project? Who would ever spend $68m on a project benefiting so few when Marin has many much more acute issues.

It’s time for a climate change – a climate change in accountability.

What can you do?

Don’t blame MTC, they’re just executing on the will of the people – only the will of the people is being distorted in Sacramento.

Write to Marin’s State Assemblyman Marc Levine and demand more accountability for transit projects – like this bike path and the $1.6 billion SMART train. Let’s put an end to transit oriented madness and start putting tax dollars to work where they’re really needed.

Write to State Senate President Kevin De Leon and tell him you’ve had enough of the transit oriented development ideology. DeLeon has now replaced Steinberg.

Click on the links and write – it’s easy – both politicians provide easy to use forms. There’s no excuse, demand a climate change in accountability! It’s your money they’re spending.

View the Full MTC Public Records Request Response