City Manager Gives Drawbridge Update

Courtesy Friends of Sausal Creek -- The Fruitvale Bridge remained stuck in the upright position for some of last week’s power outage.
Courtesy Friends of Sausal Creek -- The Fruitvale Bridge remained stuck in the upright position for some of last week’s power outage.

City Manager Gives Drawbridge Update

Alameda City Manager Jennifer Ott gave City Council and community members an update on the cause of the Fruitvale and High Street bridges being inoperable during last Sunday’s power outage. Ott gave a summary of the events at the Feb. 21 City Council meeting.

Ott said that both bridges were in the open position for an extended period because prior to the power outage they were letting a boat through. The bridges, “as many may know are operated by Alameda County and their protocol in this event is to dispatch a station engineer to manually lower each affected bridge, which they did, but due to traffic and other things it did take a while for them to ultimately start lowering the bridges,” said Ott.

They started with the High Street bridge and then eventually went to the Fruitvale bridge.

“If it had taken longer, they would have dispatched portable generators that can be used to maintain access coming off the island,” said Ott.

Ott said she met with Alameda County Board Supervisor Lena Tam, the Alameda County Public Works director and their deputy director about what they could do differently in the future.

“It seems it appears kind of a fluke both those bridges happened to be up at the time this power outage occurred,” said Ott. “Either way, it obviously caused quite a bit of traffic congestion and we are looking to see how we could make how we could do things differently in the future.”

Ott said she will meet with other Alameda County officials to find a better solution and will update city leaders and the community when she gets more answers.

The power outage on Sunday, Feb. 19, was due to a catastrophic fire at the PG&E substation near the Oakland Coliseum (“,” Feb 21). More than 54,000 residents in Oakland and Alameda were reported to have lost power on Sunday.

With both High Street and Fruitvale bridges unable to transport people off the island, many commuters traveled to the Park Street Bridge to leave Alameda. However, this caused a major traffic jam with people saying it took them almost 45 minutes to leave Alameda.

Other city services were impacted by the power outage, but Ott said city back up plans were in effect.

“The good news is that all of our backup generators for the police station and fire stations all functioned properly and so we had no impacts to our public safety services,” said Ott. “We didn’t have safety issues related to intersections. Our public works department had flashing red lights or temporary stop signs at intersections that lost power.”

The power outage did not just affect residents. Numerous businesses including the Ross and Trader Joe’s at South Shore Center and the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex reported they had to temporarily close operations due to a lack of electricity.

The Oakland International Airport was also affected by the power outage. Certain check-in procedures were inoperable during the outage, according to reports. The outage also affected BART and AC Transit services.