The City of Pinole plans to replace the existing San Pablo Avenue Bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad track just north of downtown Pinole.
San Pablo Avenue is a four-lane regional arterial through western Contra Costa County that connects Pinole with the City of San Pablo to the south and City of Hercules to the north.
PURPOSE & NEED
The purpose of the project is to provide a safe, modern bridge and roadway that enhances and supports multi-modal transportation. The new bridge will maintain four vehicular lanes with bike/pedestrian facilities meeting current standards. The existing bridge is a 13-span reinforced concrete slab structure constructed in 1938 and has reached the end of its service life.
In the 2018 Structure Inventory and Appraisal Report, the existing bridge was listed as structurally deficient with a sufficiency rating of 33.5 making it eligible for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Highway Bridge Program (HBP) replacement funding.
The City of Pinole completed a Project Study Report in 2015 to identify alternatives to update the existing bridge to meet current design and safety standards. Structural deficiencies were documented and it was recommended to pursue grant funding for the bridge replacement.
The City was approved for initial funding from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Highway Bridge Program (HBP). The total budget identified to complete the preliminary engineering exceeds the amount of funding Caltrans committed to the project of the State's share in the current HBP.
In Spring 2020, the City of Pinole selected Quincy Engineering to develop the project and work began on preliminary engineering and environmental technical studies in Spring 2020. The preliminary engineering will be completed in two phases due to funding limitations. Completion of preliminary design is necessary to develop a final cost estimate for the project.
PROJECT STATUS & MILESTONES
Four design alternatives were initially considered by City staff during the initial development of the bridge design. A comprehensive Value Analysis was conducted in order to narrow down the design alternatives to two. The Value Analysis considered impacts to the following:
Right of way
Traffic during construction
The Value Analysis made it clear that there were two design alternatives worthy of being considered by the Pinole City Council. Those two design alternatives were considered at the Pinole City Council Meeting on March 1, 2022. The Council unanimously agreed to move forward with the design of Alternative 1, which includes construction of a temporary two-lane bridge during construction of the permanent bridge along its existing alignment. Alternatives 1 & 2 are shown below.
While it has taken longer than originally anticipated, Caltrans held a formal Type Selection Meeting on August 18, 2023 with the City and its consultants regarding the San Pablo Avenue Bridge Project. A general consensus was reached in the meeting that the City’s preferred alternative for the bridge was acceptable to Caltrans and continues to be eligible for Caltrans Highway Bridge Program funding. This is good news, as this milestone allows the City to continue to work towards completing the preliminary engineering and environmental phase, and the overall development of the project. The City anticipates formal Type Selection Approval in September 2023.
The Project is continuing the Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Study Project Development Process. The formal approval of Caltrans Type Selection Process allows the City to move forward with critical next steps, including:
Completion of Project Studies and Environmental Documents (currently in draft format)
Development and completion of final plans, specifications, and estimates
Obtaining all required regulatory agency permits
Advertising, awarding, and constructing the project
Phase I (3 Years):
Prepare Alternatives Analysis and Bridge Type Selection
Coordinate with BNSF Railroad
Prepare Project Report
Develop CEQA/NEPA Environmental Documents, technical studies and regulatory permits
Phase II (18 Months):
Complete Geotechnical Design Report
Develop detailed final plans, specifications and cost estimates
- Coordinate any required utilities relocations and right-of-way acquisitions
- Project goes to bid
Phase III (18-24 Months):
Upcoming presentation and meeting information will be posted here. There are currently no events planned.
Links to videos of previous project presentations are below:
TO PROVIDE YOUR INPUT, OR FOR QUESTIONS AND INFORMATION CONTACT:
Capital Improvement & Environmental Program Manager
2131 Pear St., Pinole, CA 94564
Phone: (510) 724-9839
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Why replace the existing bridge?
A: The bridge, while modern when constructed in 1938, no longer meets current safety standards. The current bridge does not meet modern seismic design criteria and does not meet current geometric standards for vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists. This project will improve public safety for all users.
Q: How is the project being funded?
A: In 2015, a Project Study Report (PSR) was prepared for the San Pablo Ave. Bridge Replacement Project. The total project cost was estimated to be $16,766,800. (preliminary engineering - $893k, right-of-way - $100k, and construction -$15,773,800).
Based on the project cost estimate provided in the PSR, the State programmed the project in the HBP plan and committed to providing 88.53% of project costs. The local share of the project is 11.47%. The State authorized $879,102.90 to proceed with the design and environmental phases.
The local share for the design and environmental phases has been secured from CCTA Measure J grant funds. The City was also awarded a STMP grant of $1,600,000 for additional local share for the design, environmental, and construction phase for this regional asset.
In October 2018, the City completed a qualifications-based selection for the preliminary engineering phase. The total budget identified to complete the preliminary engineering is $2,594,600. This budget exceeds the amount of funding Caltrans committed to the project of the State’s share in the current HBP. There are conditions which warrant an increase in the overall budget for the project.
The preliminary engineering will be completed in two phases due to funding limitations. Completion of preliminary design is necessary to develop a final cost estimate for the project.
Q: When will the new bridge be constructed?
A: Construction is tentatively planned to take place between 2024‐2026 provided that funding for construction is available.
Q: Why doesn’t the Project appear in Pinole’s current Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)?
A: The Project is beyond the scope of the CIP. The CIP includes preliminary engineering for the Project and will continue to be updated.
Q: What can this project do to mitigate speeding?
A: Lane standards are dictated by Average Daily Traffic (ADT). Traffic calming measures are being considered but may need to be constructed separately from this project.
Q: What is the grade change to private parcels near the bridge approach on San Pablo Avenue?
A: The bridge elevation will go up and will touch down before John Street. BNSF railroad has minimum standards for vertical clearance over the railroad that cannot be avoided. Grade changes will be minimal at the frontages of nearby parcels.
Q: Is the railroad going to require chain link fences at the outer limits of the bridge structure?
A: Yes, that will be required, it is a Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requirement to provide fencing. There are several different aesthetic options available. The exact design is to be determined.
Q: Will access to 2711 San Pablo Ave be maintained from San Pablo Avenue, or will it be re-routed through the John Street neighborhood?
A: Driveway access to 2711 San Pablo Ave will remain on San Pablo Avenue. There is no plan to re-route access through the John Street neighborhood.
Q: Is there room for a buffer between the vehicular traveled way and bicycle lane?
A: Final striping has yet to be determined, but striping can be provided that will clearly delineate the bicycle lane from the vehicular lanes. Bicycle and Pedestrian safety are of top concern.
Q: What other bicycle and pedestrian improvements will be made beyond the bridge?
A: The HBP program funds bridge improvements, further bicycle and pedestrian improvements will need to be constructed separately and will be addressed by the CIP.
Q: Will there be accommodations for bicycles and pedestrians during construction?
A: Bicycles and Pedestrians will be accommodated during construction of either bridge alternative. For Alternative 1, they will be accommodated on the temporary bridge during construction.
Q: What impact will there be to current state of parking and access between John Street and Pinole Valley Road during construction?
A: There is no plan to modify parking or access to local homes or businesses. The permanent improvements will conform near the John Street intersection. Detours for either Alternative will conform in a similar location. There will be normal construction traffic at isolated times.
Q: What is the plan for construction laydown/staging areas?
A: The current plan is to utilize the adjacent BNSF railroad parcel and some City property for staging. The City will continue to inform local residents and businesses of any parking or access changes.
Q: Has the City considered rehabilitating the existing bridge instead of replacing the entire bridge?
A: Rehabilitating the bridge does not address the current deficiencies of the bridge. A complete replacement is necessary.
Q: A new residential development is planned at 215 Skelly in the City of Hercules, does the Project propose to construct a new pedestrian bridge to the Skelly neighborhood?
A: There used to be a pedestrian bridge to skelly. Pedestrian connectivity will be available via the San Pablo Avenue Bridge. No new connection to Skelly will be constructed with the Project.
Q: Alternative 2 would bring the new bridge closer to nearby Hercules residents. Has the project evaluated the noise and exhaust exposure to nearby residents that would be associated with Alternative 2?
A: Noise and air quality technical studies will be performed. Alternative 1 maintains the existing alignment and would not move the permanent bridge alignment closer to the residents on Skelly.
Q: Will PG&E lines be undergrounded?
A: It is not likely that undergrounding PG&E lines are reimbursable through the HBP. This is an ongoing issue that the City is working through.
Q: What is the anticipated construction duration?
A: For Alternative 1, the anticipated construction duration is 18 to 20 months. For Alternative 2 the construction duration will likely be 24 to 30 months.
Q: With the increased width of the bridge proposed by Alternative 1, will that width be accommodated to the north or the south of the existing bridge?
A: With Alternative 1, the proposed centerline of the bridge will remain approximately where it is today, and the width will be accommodated on the north and south side of the bridge. The bridge structure and approaches will remain within the public right of way.
Q: Is this a bridge replacement, or will the vertical supports be maintained, and the bridge deck be improved?
A: The Project is a complete bridge replacement including vertical supports
Q: What accommodations will be made for road traffic and rail traffic during construction?
A: Vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic will be accommodated by a temporary bridge for Alternative 1. For Alternative 2 they will be accommodated on the existing structure and ultimately on the new structure, as Alternative 2 proposes to construct the new bridge in phases. The project will not disrupt rail traffic during construction.
Comment: A thorough search of all utilities is essential in the early stage of this project, as well as detailed right of way maps.
Response: Comment is noted, and that work is being performed.
Comment: We are concerned that a new bridge, without significant design elements, will increase speed, making downtown Pinole more dangerous. We have witnessed red light violations at the John Street intersections entering downtown Pinole. This could be a deterrent to retail activity and dangerous to pedestrians. Our suggestion is to install a roundabout at the south end of the bridge that would accommodate the private driveways, bus stop, pedestrian crossing, and intersection of John St. Roundabout are increasingly see as tools to slow traffic, increase safety, and reduce carbon emissions.
Response: Traffic and noise studies are ongoing, and all feasible traffic-calming measure will be considered throughout design.
Comment: East Bay Coffee has continually experienced customer parking shortages. The BNSF railroad lot has been used as overflow, particularly when there are events in the vicinity of downtown. While the railroad lot may serve as an appropriate staging area for construction trailers and contractor parking, it will in no way accommodate the needs of all involved. As we experienced from the construction at Pinole Valley High, the parking needs for construction workers were grossly under anticipated.
City studies referenced as proof of adequate parking available are outdated and do not leave room for future growth in their calculations. As a business, we have looked for ways to maximize existing parking allocations, creatively inform our customers and complied with all the use permit demands to require our employees to park out-of-the way of surrounding residents. We would like to be a part of the conversation.
Response: Your comments have been noted and the City will continue to engage with the public as the details of this project unfold. Regardless of the Alternative selected, the City recognizes that parking for local businesses should be maintained to the fullest extent possible.