Push for 3rd lane on upper deck of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to help reduce traffic, pollution

Officials are urging those in support of the plan to sign their online petition

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Monday, July 17, 2023
Here's the plan to help with traffic on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge
Lawmakers and community leaders are calling on the state to use bridge toll funding for improvements to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- Lawmakers and community leaders are calling on the state to use bridge toll funding for improvements to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

Community leaders are asking to add a third lane to the bridge to address both traffic and pollution concerns in the area.

Stretching four and a half miles long, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge sees around 18,000 commuters heading westbound from the East Bay.

But most mornings, traffic looks a lot like this, stop and go at the toll plaza before being squeezed into two lanes.

"The streets and roads in the local Richmond community are completely backed up due to the traffic and a lot of people aren't even trying to get onto the bridge, it's just backing up their community," John Grubb, Chief Operating Officer of the Bay Area Council said.

MORE: Committee passes bill increasing Bay Area bridge tolls to fund public transportation

A bill that would raise the toll on Bay Area bridges for a five-year period to fund public transportation has its first committee hearing Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the bridge has a third bike lane on the upper deck that the Bay Area Council says only 18 bikers use on a daily basis.

That's why the Bay Area Council and other community leaders are calling on Caltrans and regional transportation officials to use voter-approved bridge toll funding from Regional Measure 3 to prioritize changes to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge access lanes, toll plaza and bridge lanes.

"We need to reimagine the Richmond San-Rafael Bridge to emphasize multi-modal transportation, open up the third lane during busy commute hours while still preserving a bike path, with a movable zipper lane," Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-Marin) said.

Their plan would open up the third bike lane to drivers on the upper deck during morning commute hours and install a moveable zipper lane on the lower deck that could be used for bikes on weekday mornings.

They believe this will reduce or altogether end the backups and reduce the pollution, which they say has been disproportionately impacting Richmond residents.

"The cars and the trucks that are there are actually producing the largest source of air pollution in the Richmond community is from the 580 backup so that's PM 2.5 which gets into the lungs and can cause asthma and all sorts of different damage," Grubb said.

MORE: Highway 101 toll-based express lanes open on Peninsula, stretching 16 additional miles

Tolling began Friday morning on the new U.S. Highway 101 express lanes between South San Francisco and Sunnyvale.

The Bay Area Council is also calling for the $210 million from Regional Measure 3 to be used for improving the toll plaza itself: taking out the outdated toll booths and turning the Richmond side into open road tolling.

"There's nothing in the way of fixing this situation, expect for decision makers not making the right decisions," he said.

Officials are also urging those in support of this plan to sign their online petition here.

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