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Is the CrossWater Horizontal Elevator an Alternative to the Oakland Pedestrian Bridge?

Faced with the concept of an expensive, marine traffic-limiting drawbridge between Oakland and Alameda to help pedestrians and bicyclists cross the 1,000 feet between the two municipalities, sailors, marinas and yacht clubs in the Oakland Estuary have chimed in with a variety of alternative ideas. Suggestions include a simple ferry system, improvements to the Alameda Tube, improving the bike paths along the Oakland side of the Estuary so that bicyclists would feel safe and inspired to use the Park Street Bridge, or construction of a very high bridge that would not impede boat traffic.

A recent article in The Optimist Daily highlighted a creative idea that would fit right in with the Bay Area’s progressive, innovative, high-tech culture. An autonomous, electric water-crossing transport system by CrossWater, still in the development phase in Europe, looks as if it could satisfy the needs of sailors, the Coast Guard, bicyclists and pedestrians. The devil is always in the details, but the conceptually simple idea developed by CrossWater is like a horizontal elevator without cables. Improvements in battery technology, apps, autonomous vehicles, electric propulsion and more allow us to look at old problems in new ways.

For bicycle- and sailing-crazed Europe, it looks like an ideal solution. Europe, from Holland to the Med, has a beautiful and well-developed canal system for commerce and pleasure. Bridges create barriers for both. A solution that allows the easy passage of boats, bicycles and pedestrians looks like a more people- and budget-friendly option for all. Since sailors, bicyclists and pedestrians are often the same, could it possibly please all? Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a prototype in operation, so whether this company is the provider, or another innovator developing low-carbon, sustainable water transport comes up with an alternative, we are living in an era where we’re all looking for innovation to help solve our shared challenges.


  1. Ken Brinkley 11 months ago

    Can it fight cross currents of up to 10 knots ? If so the Willamette in Portland Oregon would be interested!

  2. Brian Boschma 11 months ago

    The Half Moon Bay YC has a prototype of this running to a remote dock from the club house beach.

  3. John Tennyson 11 months ago

    Great, until some yutzes decide it would be a great idea to run back and forth on one to see if they could capsize it.

  4. anthony 11 months ago

    basically small ferries – ferries seem to always operate at a loss.

  5. Neal Holmlund 11 months ago

    This concept is interesting, but there is no current web information on this company and their contact link bounces back no response. Defunct? Perhaps others can use this idea.

    • John Arndt 11 months ago

      It looks like it’s a start up which may never get afloat but looks like a product that will be developed by them or someone.

  6. Marty Thamm 11 months ago

    Thanks John. While only a concept, it shows that creative non-bridge solutions to estuary crossing can and must be considered. The best solution enables use for all without restricting use for some.

  7. Nick 10 months ago

    Seems like the choice of a cube is aesthetic? Seems like small boats would work better in real water. The idea that somehow a cube is the best shape for a small boat and humans just never thought of or tries that seems really silly.

  8. Chris 10 months ago

    They could cross off “feeling safe to use the Park Street Bridge” in their plans. The broken down motor homes and mounds of trash on Kennedy Street have been there almost 2 years.

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