Santa Rosa council funds study of bicycle and pedestrian bridge

Santa Rosa will spend an additional $400,000 studying a controversial bridge over Highway 101 for bicycles and pedestrians.

The City Council on Tuesday approved funding for the 18-month study, which is essentially a permit from Caltrans for the project, estimated to cost up to $20 million.

Bicycle advocates, Santa Rosa Junior College students and residents of the areas to be served by the bridge voiced strong support for the council's decision.

"I'm really excited that we're moving forward on this bridge that so many of us have been waiting so many years for," Junior College neighborhood resident Julie Chasen said.

The council appears to have overcome some of its earlier resistance to spending more money studying what some have seen as an unnecessary and expensive pet project of the cycling community in general and Councilman Gary Wysocky in particular.

Scott Bartley alluded to some of the acrimony that developed late last year when the new majority on the council appeared poised to block further funding for the project.

There was some "pretty intense negative energy about this project" back then, Bartley said, adding that he hopes backers can find a way to put that behind them.

"I think we really need to get it into a positive place," Bartley said. "Negativity is not where a project of this significance can survive."

It will be years before the city can attract the funding needed to construct the bridge, he said.

The city has spent more than $390,000 to date on the project, which envisions a curvaceous 15-foot-wide span from Elliott Avenue on the east side of Highway 101 to Edwards Avenue on the west. The precise design and layout would be determined later after community meetings and negotiations with property owners.

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