For those locked in traffic as they cross the Bay over the Dumbarton Bridge every day, the time it will take to improve traffic flow by making major changes to the vehicle bridge and the nearby abandoned rail bridge may seem like an eternity.
But an early presentation on a Facebook-sponsored $1 million study of the Dumbarton transportation corridor suggests these changes may be expedited.
According to the presentation, given Aug. 2 to the governing board of the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), it could be feasible to:
• Increase the frequency and number of destinations of transbay buses by 2020.
• Convert a traffic lane on the road bridge to either an express lane or a shifting lane that matches commute direction by 2025.
• Rebuild the abandoned rail bridge and activate a rail shuttle across the Bay to connect Redwood City to Union City by 2030.
These timelines, of course, assume such projects can be funded in time. Estimated costs amount to more than $1.8 billion by 2025, plus another $295 million to expand the rail service from Newark to Union City in the East Bay.
The timelines also assume that the many jurisdictions and agencies that would be involved in the projects are on board. That includes Caltrain, Union Pacific, the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans, the State Transportation Board, and the cities the routes would pass through.
One change being considered to reduce traffic along the Dumbarton corridor is building a bicycle and pedestrian path along the Dumbarton rail right-of-way. However, SamTrans principal planner Melissa Reggiardo said that project is not currently being recommended because the right-of-way is not wide enough to accommodate that and other potential uses of the corridor.
Another change that could be implemented by 2020 is to expand bus service across the Dumbarton bridge. The board could add 17 shuttles, Reggiardo said, and offer routes that go north to Menlo Park and Redwood City, and south to Mountain View and Sunnyvale.
Doing so could increase the number of transbay transit riders by 34 percent. Currently, only about 1,000 people ride the Dumbarton Express (the transbay bus) daily, and not all of them are crossing the Bay, SamTrans spokesman Dan Lieberman said.
The study recommends that changes be made to improve traffic flow on the roads that approach the bridge on both sides.
2025 to 2030
The study also recommends the board look further into rebuilding the abandoned rail bridge into a two-track rail line that would run from Redwood City to Newark by 2025, and then to Union City by 2030.
The transit agency researched the option using the rail bridge exclusively for buses, but did not recommend this approach if the vehicle bridge would have express lanes added that buses could use.
An overpass for public buses and private shuttles that would connect directly to U.S. Highway 101 was recommended for further research.
The study estimates that with the proposed changes, about 5,600 people would take the train, 12,700 would take the bus, and 5,000 would take private shuttles across the Bay each day.
The draft of the study is expected to be released prior to public meetings set for Tuesday, Aug. 15, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Union City Library at 34007 Alvarado-Niles Road; and Wednesday, Aug. 16, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the East Palo Alto library and city hall at 2415 University Ave.
People can comment on the study's recommendations for 30 days after the report is released by speaking at one of the meetings, or by submitting comments by phone at 650-508-6283; by email to email@example.com; or by mail to: Melissa Reggiardo, San Mateo County Transit District, P.O. Box 3006, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos, CA 94070.