Plans to renovate Berkeley Pier move ahead with new funding secured – CBS News
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By Wilson Walker
/ CBS San Francisco
BERKELEY — The long-defunct Berkeley Pier may finally get another life. Plans to rebuild the structure, and add a new ferry service, have taken a big step forward with another $5 million in funding
“We are ecstatic,” said Patricia Cook, who had heard news of the ferry plan moving ahead. “Yeah, we would love to see something positive happen here in the marina.”
The far end of the Berkeley Marina hasn’t seen much positive news or traffic since the crumbling pier was closed in 2015. Now, a second life for the structure appears to be on the way.
“We are excited for progress on this service,” said Thomas Hall, a spokesman for SF Bay Ferry. “We’ve heard from a lot of folks throughout the East Bay, the I-80 corridor, some of the most congested freeways in the nation.”
SF Bay Ferry would operate out of a rebuilt pier with that new, sweeping break. “The Sword” is what this design is now being called. The upgrades and new infrastructure would take an estimated $120 million, but that money is starting to line up, and the ferry service says demand will be there.
“The time savings you get,” Hall added. “From Berkeley to San Francisco is going to be a fairly short ferry ride, as opposed to sitting through I-80, through the toll plaza, getting over the bridge, getting into town, finding parking in the city. So it’s clearly going to be at time savings, a money savings and environmental improvement for folks.”
Like BART trains, ferry boats have seen ridership drop since the pandemic while traffic on the freeways has climbed closer to pre-pandemic numbers.
“All transit operators are dealing with different scenarios, different situations,” Hall said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to really rely on a lot of recreational ridership.”
The expectation is that by the time more funding is secured, and construction gets underway, there will be greater appetite for more options. The old pier’s time may come around again.
“I grew up here in the Bay Area and took the ferry as a teenager,” said Lenore Thompson. “So I really want to see it restart and make it happen again.”
It wouldn’t just be the ferry service. The plans include having the parking lot double as an event space with an amphitheater, which would also mean bringing some life back into the old HS Lordship’s space which closed back in 2018. All of this, of course, is going to need some more money, but they say that the first $5 million is a big start toward making all of this happen.
Wilson Walker joined KPIX 5 in July 2007. After 10 years producing newscasts, Wilson became a Multimedia Journalist (MMJ) in 2012, meaning he shoots, writes and edits all of his own stories.
First published on May 30, 2023 / 9:35 PM
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©2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.