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The Bridges of Alameda County

The Public Works Agency operates and maintains six (6) drawbridges over the Oakland-Alameda Estuary. Four of the bridges are for vehicle traffic; one bridge is for trains; and the other is exclusively for bicycles and pedestrians. All of bridges except the railroad bridge are known as bascule bridges. The railroad bridge is a vertical lift bridge.

In 2000, the voters of Alameda County passed Measure B which continued the County Wide cent sales tax for transportation projects. Measure B includes funding to pay for about 20% of the operation and maintenance cost for the High Street, Park Street, and Miller-Sweeney Bridges.

Most of the bridges are second generation bridges built to replace swing-span bridges. The original bridges were designed mainly for horse and wagon traffic to perform such duties as exporting East Bay timber and hides or importing coffee and sugar. The original bridges were constructed by the federal government during the construction of the Estuary from 1892-1902. Alameda County assumed responsibility for operation and maintenance of the Park, High and Fruitvale Bridges from the Federal Government in 1913.

Today, the four vehicle bridges handle in excess of 44 million vehicle trips annually and serve as transportation corridors for most of the commercial traffic between the cities of Oakland, Alameda and Interstate 880. They also permit passage of over 2,300 private and commercial tugs, barges, sailboats and other watercraft. You might say that 21 Alameda County employees operate and maintain 12 percent of the 47 working drawbridges in the State of California.

Bridge operation is regulated by the United States Coast Guard, functioning as the enforcement arm of the Federal Department of Homeland Security.

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