County Board of Supervisors President Alice Lai-Bitker has issued a public statement about plans to limit the hours when boaters can have easy access to open bridges on the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.
While a proposal was submitted to the Coast Guard to permit the bridges to be closed in the “down” position from 4:30 p.m. to 9 a.m., the bridges will continue to be accessible to boaters with a four-hour notice to the Coast Guard, the supervisor explains.
This proposal, says Lai-Bitker, “will not impact the public safety or emergency response for Alameda residents. I am disturbed to know some residents are worried that homeowners along the estuary will not get emergency services. This is a ridiculous speculation.”
According to the county supervisor, the state threatened to the take away $2.5 million used to operate the estuary bridges from the county in 2009.
After meeting with boating groups and other community members, Lai-Bitker says, she also studied use data. The bridges did not open, or go up, for boaters, on 75 out of 365 days in 2009. “These trends support modifying the current hours of operation,” she insists.
“Operating the bridges is an unfunded mandate the federal government handed to the county. Boating is part of Alameda’s cultural identity — I understand the concern about modifications to bridge operations. However, it is incumbent upon me to make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely and our local government seeks cost-effective ways to maintain public services in these challenging economic times,” she explains in a public statement dated August 4.
“I believe we have done that with the proposal under review by the federal regulators,” the supervisorA concludes.
Alameda residents with questions about the bridges, estuary issues and emergency services should contact Lai-Bitker’s chief of staff, Shawn Wilson: On Monday and Tuesday at 510-272-6693, Wednesday and Thursday at 510-278-0367 and on Friday at 510-418-6260.