Fruitvale Bridge

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Fruitvale Bridge
View of a vertical lift bridge spanning the estuary separating Oakland from Alameda.
Fruitvale Avenue vertical-lift railroad bridge. The Fruitvale Avenue Miller-Sweeney bridge is directly behind the raised span of the railroad bridge.
Coordinates 37°46′8″N 122°13′49″W / 37.76889°N 122.23028°W / 37.76889; -122.23028Coordinates: 37°46′8″N 122°13′49″W / 37.76889°N 122.23028°W / 37.76889; -122.23028
Carries railroad
Crosses Oakland Estuary
Locale San Francisco Bay Area
Design Vertical-lift bridge
Material steel
Height 175 ft (53 m)
Clearance below 65 ft (20 m) (raised)
Closed 2000
Fruitvale Bridge is located in Oakland, California
Fruitvale Bridge
Fruitvale Bridge
Location in Oakland, California
Fruitvale Bridge is located in San Francisco Bay Area
Fruitvale Bridge
Fruitvale Bridge
Location in Oakland, California
Fruitvale Bridge is located in California
Fruitvale Bridge
Fruitvale Bridge
Location in Oakland, California
Fruitvale Avenue Bridge
View of a bascule bridge (drawbridge) spanning the estuary separating Oakland from Alameda.
Partially raised bascule on road bridge, immediately behind rail bridge.
Carries cars and trucks on Fruitvale (Oakland) and Tilden Avenues (Alameda)
Official name Miller-Sweeney Bridge
Design Single leaf bascule bridge
Material steel, concrete
Total length 215 ft (66 m)
Width 52 ft (16 m) roadway
6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) sidewalks
Clearance below 15 ft (4.6 m) (high tide)
21 ft (6.4 m) (low tide)
No. of lanes 4
Designer McCreary-Koretsky International
Constructed by Hensel Phelps
Fabrication by Kaiser Steel
Daily traffic 15,300

The Fruitvale Bridge is a vertical-lift railroad moveable bridge that crosses the Oakland Estuary. There is a road bridge, commonly called the Fruitvale Avenue Bridge, immediately adjacent to the rail bridge. Both bridges link the cities of Oakland and Alameda.

Rail bridge[edit]

The rail bridge is immediately west of the Miller-Sweeney road bridge which connects Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland with Tilden Way in Alameda. It has been out of service since 2000.


This lift bridge was constructed in 1951 to replace an earlier bridge that originally served the SP interurban trains from San Francisco (SP's Interurban Electric Railway discontinued service in 1941). From 1951 until September 11, 1996, the Southern Pacific Railroad operated freight service across the bridge to serve shippers in Alameda and to connect with the Alameda Belt Line railroad. After SP was acquired by Union Pacific on September 11, 1996, UP provided infrequent service to Alameda until service was discontinued in 2000.


The right-of-way still exists through the East Bay, however, the tracks on both sides of the bridge have been severed and the span remains raised at 65 feet above water level, except when operated for maintenance and testing. Although unused, tracks still exist in Alameda on Blanding Ave. and Clement St. The bridge is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is operated by the County of Alameda. The Miller-Sweeney bridge tender, a county employee, operates the railroad bridge from controls in the Miller-Sweeney control house. The last train across the bridge ran in 2000.

Road bridge[edit]

The road bridge is officially named the Miller-Sweeney Bridge at Fruitvale Avenue.[1] It has no overhead steel structure like the other road bridges between Alameda and Oakland (the High Street Bridge and the Park Street Bridge) so tall vehicles should use the Miller-Sweeney Bridge.[1] Miller-Sweeney opens approximately 1,600 times per year to accommodate marine traffic.[1]


A bridge at this location initially opened in 1894, initially carrying rail traffic.[1] It was regraded to accommodate road traffic, and the train tracks were removed in 1951 with the completion of the dedicated vertical-lift rail bridge.[1] The present Miller-Sweeney Bridge was completed in 1973 by the US Army Corps of Engineers and turned over to Alameda County in 1975.[1] Miller-Sweeney won a prize bridge award for movable spans from the American Institute of Steel Construction in 1974.[2]

The Miller-Sweeney Bridge was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and was damaged again in 1991 when a fully loaded barge hit the span.[1]


The Miller-Sweeney Bridge is normally opened by two 75-horsepower (56 kW) motors, which take 66 seconds to fully open the bridge to 79°.[1] The motors typically operate in tandem, drawing electricity from Alameda Municipal Power. Under emergency conditions, a portable generator may be used to power the single backup 5-horsepower (3.7 kW) motor, which takes 20 minutes to fully open the bridge.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Miller-Sweeny [sic] Bridge". Alameda County Public Works Agency. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  2. ^ "Prize Bridges 1974" (PDF). American Institute of Steel Construction. 1974. pp. 16–17. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 

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