Slow going for Martinez Bridge

Support for a bridge connecting downtown Martinez to Waterfront Park was a slow crawl, with the idea for the bridge first coming to life in the 1930s. It took until 2001 to revive the idea.

Two years ago, the bridge was approved. Now it looks like its construction will be just as slow, with plans still being developed after all this time.

It will take at least a few more months to finalize plans. Meetings for the public to voice opinions and concerns about moving pedestrians, bicyclists and emergency vehicles over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks will need to take place.

At this point, even basic points such as where the bridge will begin are still under debate.

When the bridge was first approved, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority approved a request by the city of Martinez for $200,000 to investigate how a bridge would affect businesses, the railroad, PG&E and the East Bay Regional Park District.

One proposal featured a 20-foot-wide bridge connecting Court and North Court streets. It was to begin at Court Street near Marina Vista, rise 23 feet over the railroad tracks and end at an existing parking lot at Waterfront Park.

Continuous train traffic sparked the push for the bridge. Around 20 freight trains and 44 Amtrak passenger trains travel the tracks each day, with traffic stoppages often causing dreadful jams.

It gets worse during the summer.

John Eddy of Arup, the engineering firm designated to find crossing alternatives and examine the potential environmental impact, told the CoCo Times the bridge may not look like anything the firm previously designed.

It must first assess public transit patterns, railroads and bike lanes before developing a working plan.

The country transportation agency is footing $10.2 million for construction, but it may not be enough to build a bridge.