Tuesday, December 23, 2014

moving target: restoration of Skyline Boulevard Bridge

Back in the day, back in the early days of recorded time (i.e. since I got a Garmin 500 and signed up for Strava), we used to ride an SF2G Skyline route which didn't descend Crystal Springs to Polhemus bus instead remained on Skyline Boulevard, crossed a bridge at the dam under the 280 Flyover, and then climbed back to Highway 92.   The memories of that nearly forgotten time must be reconstructed from the yellowing pages of the Strava archives lest they be forgotten forever.

Note the rather direct route near Crystal Springs. Now compare and contrast:

You can see the difference near the "Belmont" label: a left, right, right, left while the earlier route takes a relatively straight line.

The alternate route involves a descent of Crystal Springs Road, a right turn onto Polhemus, a long climb there to where it turns into Ralston past the Highway 92 interchange, then passing through a parking lot to descend back to Cañada Road via a twisting bike-pedestrian path which ends with a stiff but short climb to cross over Highway 280. The whole thing adds around 15 minutes for a fast southbound rider.

Why? The bridge on Skyline Boulevard was assigned to be updated for seismic compliance. The promised finish: an incomprehensibly long 2.5 years, until the spring of 2013. Wow. But somehow we'd survive.

It's now fall 2014, and the projected completion date: spring 2017, 2.4 years. So they've made 0.1 years of progress in the past 4 years, an efficiency of 2.5%. Building the entire Grand Coulee Dam took 9 years, so they're looking now at a renovation project on a small dam and bridge which will take most of the time to build one of the great engineering feats of our history, close to double the four years it took to build the Golden Gate Bridge.

In response, some riders have taken to occasionally riding the Highway 280 shoulder along the "flyover", the connecting Golf Course Road and Belmont Road. The 280 shoulder is already legal in two sections further north thanks to the hard work of bike advocates in the 1970's, as at the time it was argued that there was no timely alternative for north-south travel. This is the condition today: the Polhemus detour adds a substantial time and effort to the ride.

Personally I've not objected too strongly -- the goal in riding to work via the hillier and longer Skyline route instead of the flatter and faster Bayway route is for fitness. But for some, in particular those working closer to the mountains than the bay on the peninsula, Skyline is faster and riders have a stronger motivation for reduced transit times. But given the history in delays for the project it makes sense to allow cyclists to use this section of 280. The primary issue is simply one of acrophobia, since the "flyover" is elevated well above ground level. But if a car hits you hard enough to knock you off the edge you were probably a goner anyway.

The following is a history of the projections for the completion of the seismic upgrade project, which was forwarded to the SF2G mailing list. I'm not sure who the original author is, but it's good stuff. I'd love to know why the project is apparently progressing so much slower than originally projected.


Here's there's original dates still on this blog.

 The demolition is on schedule for completion by February 2011, with the replacement bridge opening in 2013.

The internet archive has May 4 2011:
Skyline Boulevard between Crystal Springs Road and Bunker Hill Drive is closed as of Friday October 29, 2010, and is expected to be reopened in the Summer of 2013.  Click the road detour map for detour information.

On May 12 2012
Skyline Boulevard between Crystal Springs Road and Bunker Hill Drive is closed as of Friday October 29, 2010, and is expected to be reopened in the Fall of 2014.  Click the road detour map for detour information.

Then in July 2012
Skyline Boulevard between Crystal Springs Road and Bunker Hill Drive is closed as of Friday October 29, 2010, through Fall of 2014.

As a result of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's (SFPUC's) Crystal Springs/San Andreas Water Transmission System Upgrade (CSSA) project, construction of the County's new Crystal Springs Dam Bridge project will be delayed until approximately September 2013.

October 2013:
Skyline Boulevard between Crystal Springs Road and Bunker Hill Drive is closed as of Friday October 29, 2010, through Spring of 2015.

As a result of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's (SFPUC's) Crystal Springs/San Andreas Water Transmission System Upgrade (CSSA) project, construction of the County's new Crystal Springs Dam Bridge project will be delayed until approximately Spring 2014.  To facilitate construction of the SFPUC's CSSA project, the scenic vista point parking area located south of the Sawyer Camp Trail terminus will be occupied by SFPUC's contractor for material/equipment staging until approximately Spring 2014.  Subsequently, construction for the County's Crystal Springs Dam Bridge replacement project is expected to take about 1 year to complete with an anticipated reopening of Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) between Crystal Springs Road and Bunker Hill Drive in the Spring of 2015.


So let's see progress:
dateestimated time to completion
04 May 201127 months
12 May 201230 months
July 201228 months
Oct 201319 months
Dec 201429 months

So in the past 3 years of work, the projected time to completion has actually increased 2 months, from 27 to 29. That's not moving forwards, but rather backwards. Is this a new dose of honesty and we'll all be riding over the bridge by summer solstice 2017? I hardly think so. But the project has to be finished at some point, assuming there's not an earthquake during the interval which sends it all crashing down.

2 comments:

Garrett Lau said...

May 2017 is 29 months away from December 2014, not 17. Therefore, there has been no progress in the past 43 months.

djconnel said...

LOL -- you're right, Garrett! Stupid mistake on my part. That makes for an infinitely pessimistic analysis since it appears there is no progress being made at all.