AP file photoThe Bay Area Toll Authority will unveil designs for a bike path on the western span of the Bay Bridge at a public hearing tonight.

AP file photoThe Bay Area Toll Authority will unveil designs for a bike path on the western span of the Bay Bridge at a public hearing tonight.

Wheels rolling on Bay Bridge bike path

The first design options for a long-discussed bike path on the Bay Bridge’s western span will be released today, although bridge officials said there is no funding identified for the project, which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The rebuilt eastern portion of the Bay Bridge, set to open in 2013, will feature a bike and pedestrian path, but the rehabilitated western segment of the span, which connects Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco, doesn’t include any such feature.

Cyclists have long lobbied for a bike path on the western span, and in 2009 the Bay Area Toll Authority, which regulates the Bay Bridge, promised that it would draw up design options for the project.

BATA officials will unveil those designs at a public hearing tonight. The plans include several different alternatives for a bike path route around Yerba Buena Island and a number of options for connecting cyclists from the span down to San Francisco streets.

BATA spokesman John Goodwin said any of the potential bike path designs will be extremely difficult to implement, so it would probably be a decade before the project could actually be installed. In 2001, BATA officials estimated that a bike path on the western span would cost $300 to $350 million, and agency documents indicate that the project could cost as much as $550 million now.

Goodwin said all funding estimates are premature, given that a preferred design alternative hasn’t been selected. He did say that the project will be extremely costly, and that no funding sources have been identified yet for the plan.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition, said the design options show that the project is technically feasible. Despite the tough economic times, there has been some surprise funding allocations for major infrastructure projects recently, she said.

“I think it is certainly doable,” Shahum said.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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