Wednesday, October 21, 2020 (Oakland, CA) – After decades of regional cooperation and planning, the Bay Area has a new shoreline destination to enjoy. The new shoreline park is located at the eastern touchdown of the Bay Bridge and provides spectacular views of the entire bay and new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.
The new park includes a massive 600-foot long by 40-foot wide public observation pier built atop six remaining piles from the old Bay Bridge; a 24,000-square foot 1930s-era electric train maintenance building (known as the Bridge Yard) renovated to host large concerts, community events, and public concessions; and visitor amenities, including bathrooms, walking paths, interpretive panels, and connection to the Bay Bridge Bicycle-Pedestrian Trail that crosses to Treasure Island.
The new park is expected to be a popular tourist destination with sweeping views of the bay and easy access to Bay Bridge Trail, lending to its prominence as “Gateway to the East Bay” due to its visibility to eastbound Bay Bridge drivers.
“The new park is a shoreline gem for the entire region,” said East Bay Regional Park District Board Member Dee Rosario, who represents Oakland on the Board of Directors. “The park provides new shoreline access, spectacular bay views, and opportunities to walk and bike on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.”
The Park District and community celebrated the new park’s opening with a live virtual dedication event on Wednesday. The new observation pier opened to the public after the event. The event also included the signing of an agreement between the East Bay Regional Park District and Bay Area Toll Authority regarding the ongoing operations and maintenance of the observation pier.
“Opening this park has been a landmark partnership between Caltrans who has provided much of the land, the Bay Area Toll Authority who is provided much of the funding, and the Park District who manages and operates world-class regional parks,” said East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert Doyle.
The new shoreline park site – named Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline after East Bay civic and environmental leader and former Park District Board Member John Sutter – has a long history in the East Bay. From 1903 to1960, it served as the base of operations for the electric railway Key System that transported passengers around the East Bay and across to San Francisco via the Bay Bridge’s lower deck. A substation located at the site provided electrical power to all of the Key System trains. The site was also part of the Oakland Army Base, which served as a transportation port and distribution terminal for the Pacific from 1941 until it closed in 1999.
The new park was the long-term vision of Sutter, who saw the potential for a future waterfront park in the 1960s while the area was still active as the Oakland Army Base. He first proposed the park in a 1967 letter to the Association of Bay Area Governments.
“From the bicycle/pedestrian path to restoring the historic Bridge Yard building to preserving foundations from the original Bay Bridge East Span to establish the new access pier, BATA is proud of the investments it has made to make the new park – and the bay itself – more accessible to all the people of the Bay Area,” said Orinda Vice Mayor and Bay Area Toll Authority member Amy Rein Worth, who chairs the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s BATA Oversight Committee.
The new park’s opening is the culmination of decades of regional collaboration and the Park District’s long-time efforts to reclaim shoreline for public use and habitat preservation. A nine-member multiagency working group facilitated the park. The group consists of the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), California Transportation Commission (CTC), East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), City of Oakland, Port of Oakland, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Bay Trail Project. Caltrans has contributed significant land to the park, and BATA has provided the majority of the funding.
“Now that the park is opening, we are looking forward to continuing our connection with our partners and doing great things with the community here in this fantastic new public space,” said Caltrans Bay Area District Director Tony Tavares.
The observation pier will be open from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. Bike parking is available adjacent to the pier.
With the park now open, the Park District is working with the National Park Service to acquire the last remaining Oakland Army Depot parcel (20 acres) through a public benefit conveyance.