Tri-Valley motorists who use the Skyline Bridge above San Mateo should plan on longer travel times starting late this summer when detours are posted as the bridge is replaced over a three-year period.
It's part of a multi-billion dollar project to upgrade the Bay Area's water system and will especially affect major commuter arteries in San Mateo County, including parks and some business districts.
The Hetch Hetchy regional water system delivers more than 260 millions of gallons of water to 2.5 million Bay Area residents every day, but much of the system needs to be seismically upgraded or replaced, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission officials said at a lunchtime briefing Wednesday.
The public utilities commission has developed 86 projects throughout the region to replace water pipes. About 25 percent of the projects are in San Mateo County, including one to replace a number of pipes and the Skyline Bridge above the Crystal Springs Dam, SFPUC spokeswoman Maureen Barry said.
The bridge replacement is the largest and most complex of the projects, said Harlan Kelly Jr., an SFPUC assistant general manager, and was the focus of much of Wednesday's discussion.
During the three years the bridge will be closed, motorists and cyclists will be forced to take a detour around it. The detour will add about 10 minutes to the drive, San Mateo County Public Works Director James Porter said.
Demolition for the bridge is slated to begin in August, and in February 2011 the public utilities commission will begin work on the dam, Porter said. Then, in the summer of 2012 construction of the new bridge will begin, and crews will aim to complete the bridge by the following summer.
Even though construction on the bridge and dam means a long detour for motorists and cyclists, Porter said it's important and will have long-lasting impacts.
The cost of the projects in San Mateo County will total nearly a billion dollars, Barry said. Though the SFPUC will put up money for the projects, the 27 wholesalers who will benefit from the projects will pay back their share of the costs based on how much water each uses from Hetch Hetchy.