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Bridging the Bay Unbuilt Projects


During the early 20th century, Bay Area officials considered many different ideas for solving a variety of regional planning problems, including a dwindling supply of fresh water, congested roadways, insufficient means to handle trans-bay traffic, and the encroachment of saline waters into the upper San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In response, several visionary individuals and groups developed multi-purpose plans for the area. 

By far, the most popular and well-publicized plan was the Reber Plan. Originally called the San Francisco Bay Project, the plan was developed by John Reber, a former schoolteacher and theatrical producer. Reber's plan would create two fresh water lakes in the upper and lower bays by means of earth and rock fill dams between Richmond and Marin County, and Oakland and San Francisco. Over these dams would pass high-speed roads and railways. The Reber Plan claimed it would provide 20,000 acres of additional filled land, increase the deep-water harbor by 50 miles, and conserve 2,400,000 acre-feet of fresh water annually. Critics pointed out the plan's destruction of commercial fisheries, increased sewage disposal problems, adverse effects on the ports of Oakland, Stockton, and Sacramento and flooding potential. Although it attracted considerable attention, even that of the editors of the Saturday Evening Post, the Reber Plan was opposed by the State of California, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers and was never adopted. 

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Copyright © 1999 UC Berkeley Library

Data owner: R. Brandt
Updated 12/1/99