The Lodi City Council voted 3-0 to decline purchasing an abandoned Union Pacific Railroad bridge that crosses Highway 99 at its meeting on Wednesday evening.
The California Department of Transportation has been planning a project to raise two vehicle bridges that cross Highway 99 — one at Lockeford Street and one at Victor Road — and remove the abandoned bridge in the process.
The work, which is expected to start within the next 12 to 18 months, will raise the bridges approximately two feet and allow larger trucks to travel on the highway, Public Works Director Charlie Swimley said.
Caltrans offered the City of Lodi the option of purchasing the bridge, located along the Kentucky House Branch railroad, which the city has identified as a potential bicycle pathway, allowing cyclists to access areas east of Highway 99.
City staff recommended against the purchase, citing both up-front and potential future costs.
If the city purchases the bridge, it would need to conduct a number of studies — each costing about $30,000 on top of the $10,000 cost to purchase the bridge — and assume all future maintenance and liability costs.
The city would also need to purchase the right-of-way along the corridor, which Union Pacific Railroad has indicated could cost about $350,000 per acre, Swimley said.
“That doesn’t even get you one piece of pedestrian bike path improvement,” he said.
By the time the bridge would be usable for cyclists, costs could shoot up to more than $3 million, Swimley said, and there are other, better options for creating a cycling and pedestrian path across the highway.
City staff approached Bike Lodi for citizen input, Swimley said.
“It’s the bridge to nowhere,” Kathryn Siddle said at the meeting. “It’s ridiculous.”
The cycling advocacy group said they would rather see the city focus on the Greenline Project, a “rails-to-trails” pathway connecting Woodbridge and Lodi Lake to the Heritage District on Lodi’s east side.
Bike Lodi and the city have already been making efforts on Pine Street to provide access east of Highway 99, she said.
The city has been extending bike lanes along Pine and Lockeford streets between Cherokee Lane and the railroad tracks through Downtown Lodi, City Manager Steve Schwabauer added.
Councilmen Doug Kuehne and Bob Johnson were absent.