Report: Bike span over Hwy. 101 could cost up to $20 million

The projected costs of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge spanning Highway 101 between Santa Rosa Junior College and Coddingtown mall have soared to as much as $20 million, more than double original estimates.

The new projections may be a significant factor in the Santa Rosa City Council's decision tonight about whether to move forward with the project, long sought by the city's cycling community.

Councilman Gary Wysocky, an avid cyclist, said the project would be an important way to link the college, a key retail shopping area, and the likely future location of the northern Santa Rosa SMART rail station.

"A pedestrian and bicycle bridge connecting to a light rail station – you show me a greener project in America," Wysocky said.

In 2009, when the city first held community meetings on the project, initial estimates ranged from $5 million to $9 million. The city then commissioned a just-completed feasibility study that put the numbers between $10 million and $14 million.

But a city staff report before the council Tuesday notes that the "full cost to deliver a complete bridge project could be closer to $20 million."

That's due to a number of "unknown costs" that could be associated with getting people to and from the bridge, such as bike and walking paths and signs, and higher potential construction costs if funding challenges delay the project further, according to the report.

The bulk of the construction costs would be paid for from federal transportation dollars but application for that money can't happen until a project is designed.

The council is being asked to sign off on the feasibility study and to approve the use of $100,000 of redevelopment dollars to fund a new study with Caltrans, which has freeway responsibility.

Even if all the money were available and all government agencies signed off on it, the project construction isn't likely to begin for a least two or three years, said Otto Bertolero, a civil engineer in the city's public works department.

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