Demolition Planned for Montclair Bridge Over Highway 13

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October 07, 2023
Edward Smith

Highway 13’s Montclair Pedestrian Bridge Set for Demolition

The Montclair pedestrian bridge, showing significant wear, is set for demolition. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has identified the Bruns Court Pedestrian Overcrossing as seismically unsafe. This bridge allows individuals to traverse Highway 13 and Moraga Avenue, connecting Bruns Court to Montclair Park. A recent virtual public forum highlighted that the bridge’s proximity—only about 200 feet—to the Hayward Fault makes it particularly susceptible to a collapse.

Community members frequently utilize this bridge for recreational activities at the park, like baseball and pickleball. It also provides a safe route for parents walking their children to Montclair Elementary School, bypassing the bustling Moraga Avenue, notorious for speeding vehicles and its four lanes of traffic.

Caltrans’ records indicate the bridge does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and offers insufficient vertical clearance for the freeway and adjoining residential roads below. Caltrans intends to erect a new bridge, aiming for completion by 2026.

Collaborating on this project, the state and Oakland’s Department of Transportation (OakDOT) are working out specifics as the new bridge’s design might entail the city assuming additional financial and right-of-way duties.

Potential Replacements for the Crossing 

Some possible alternatives for the crossing are being evaluated:

  1. Switchback Ramp Design: This entails removing the existing crossing and constructing a new concrete one, culminating in a large “switchback” ramp between the freeway and Moraga Avenue. Consequently, the city would need to place a crosswalk on Moraga Avenue, probably with flashing beacons. Some locals believe this design would be a downgrade for pedestrians compared to the current bridge.
  2. Straight Ramp Design: This option involves replacing the current bridge with another concrete structure. Its pedestrian ramp would lead directly to the park’s side, similar to the existing design, but with a straightforward, safely angled design devoid of switchbacks. The main roadway configuration—two lanes on either side—would remain unchanged.
  3. Bike Lane Addition: This design proposes a new concrete bridge over the freeway and Moraga Avenue with a straight ramp design. However, it would repurpose one driving lane in each direction on Moraga to accommodate a buffered bike lane.

A fourth, more disruptive option has also been proposed:

  1. La Salle Avenue Overcrossing Upgrade: This would entail removing the existing crossing without a direct replacement. The state would partner with Oakland to enhance the La Salle Avenue Overcrossing—800 feet south of the Bruns Court Crossing—by expanding its pedestrian paths. However, the sidewalks would not significantly increase in width due to spatial constraints. According to OakDOT engineers, properties along La Salle Avenue could see alterations to their front landscaping and irrigation systems. The overcrossing’s slopes and driveways further complicate potential upgrades. A “sharrows” design, where bicyclists share lanes with motorists, is also in the cards for La Salle Avenue. However, a Caltrans engineer clarified that no immediate plans exist to expand the bridge’s width.

State engineers reassured those at a recent meeting that they will work closely with the city to limit disturbances during the removal of the old bridge and the erection of the new one. Residents will be notified in advance if there’s a need to close Moraga Avenue.

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Photo by Forest Burdette on Unsplash

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