Council set to OK feasibility study funds for pedestrian overcrossing from west of highway to SRJC

Plans to build a bicycle and pedestrian bridge spanning Highway 101 are moving forward two years after the issue threatened construction of a new Santa Rosa Junior College parking garage.

On Tuesday, the Santa Rosa City Council is expected to award a $117,598 contract to Steven Grover Associates of Berkeley to determine the cost and timing of the bridge project, and most importantly where it will land on each side of the freeway.

"It's going to be huge," Mayor Bob Blanchard said, citing preliminary estimates that the bridge, including ramps to accommodate the disabled, will be more than 1,500 feet long.

The span, estimated to cost $5.5 million two years ago, is now pegged at $9 million, a figure that could increase before it's actually built.

Supervising Engineer Steve Dittmer said it will be at least three years before the project moves forward and then, Blanchard added, only if enough outside funding can be secured.

"It will be built sooner or later," Blanchard said, explaining that the feasibility study will be the basis for seeking state and federal grants for construction.

So far, the only money raised for the project is what the city plans to spend on the feasibility study and $1 million set aside by the junior college as part of a legal settlement.

That settlement was the result of a lawsuit filed in October 2004 by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, which challenged an environmental study for the five-story, 1,100-space junior college parking garage.

The coalition contended the study didn't adequately address parking alternatives to the garage, which opened this year.

The group agreed to drop the lawsuit in March 2005 when college officials agreed to pay $1 million toward construction of the proposed bicycle and pedestrian overcrossing.

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