RICHMOND (CBS SF) — A four-year pilot project to open up a new eastbound vehicle traffic lane during afternoon peak hours on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was approved Thursday by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

Construction plans, which include adding a 10-foot-wide bi-directional pedestrian and bicycle pathway to the upper deck, are slated to begin this fall and should be finished within 12 to 18 months, according to Supervisor John Gioia, a member of the commission.

County officials said anyone wishing to enjoy the panoramic views of the bay will be able to access the path 24-hours a day. The path would be separated from vehicle traffic by a moveable concrete barrier.

An additional lane in the eastbound direction on the lower deck was also approved in order to increase the number of lanes from two to three in hopes of alleviating some of the commuter traffic during peak hours Monday through Friday.

County officials said that at the end of the four-year pilot period the BCDC will determine whether or not the new lanes should be made permanent.

The Bay Area Toll Authority voted unanimously in 2015 to add the additional lane and pedestrian and bike pathway and at that time had allocated $74 million for the project.

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