Werder Pier

If you’ve spent any time at all on the Bay Trail you’ve undoubtedly seen Werder Pier just south of the San Mateo Bridge. I’m sure you’ve also noticed that it’s closed, and what a classic story of our age this one is! Werder Pier was originally part of the old San Mateo-Hayward drawbridge which opened in 1929 and at the time was the world’s longest bridge. It’s almost too hard to imagine now what that journey must have been like on that bridge, it’s very narrow with no shoulder, it must have been quite a mess if there was an accident or a stalled car. Anyway, when the current SM Bridge was built in the late 60’s 4135 feet of the old bridge was kept and turned into a fishing pier. Named after the late San Mateo County Supervisor William Werder, the pier is actually the longest in California and became a very popular destination for fishing. Incredibly, it was famous as a great place to catch Sharks and Bat Rays among other things. I think it’s safe to assume the sharks were of the smaller variety…I hope!

Well, a couple of things converged almost at once that have brought Werder Pier’s current state. First, it’s age was becoming a problem and it became obvious that repairs were imminent. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, Foster City’s original General Plan called for an ingress/egress from Highway 92 on the east side of Gull Avenue near Teal Street. This was a much debated issue within the City and many local residents were not too happy about the increased traffic that was suddenly going to be deposited in their area…so the fight began. At some point in the drama an environmental group got involved and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission declared that area a protected Wetlands because of the frog species living there. So much for the new freeway offramp, hurray, right? Except the newly declared wetlands also included the parking lot for Werder Pier…which had to be closed. The pier itself was used in the late 90’s to aid in retrofitting the SM bridge but has been closed off to public use other than that. It’s condition, of course, is getting worse and there have been several meetings to discuss it’s future. It’s important to note that both Werder Pier and it’s parking lot are not in Foster City’s jurisdiction…it’s San Mateo County’s hot (or cold) potato. Foster City administers the bathrooms out there, but that’s it. There have been feasibility studies done and plenty of discussion has taken place but nobody is quite sure exactly how this can and will be resolved. It’s going to take plenty of money to repair the Pier and nobody is quite sure where that’s going to come from, not to mention the fact that BCDC isn’t happy with the notion of lots of construction equipment trampling down a protected wetlands area. That even applies to demolishing the Pier as well. It’s also interesting to note that the California Highway Patrol doesn’t want the Pier reopened at all because of post 9/11 security concerns. The San Mateo Bridge has been classified as a #1 priority site for terrorism prevention and CHP can’t provide for security at the Pier or it’s parking lot.  This issue’s one big hairy, ugly monkey, huh? What’s going to happen? Who knows? Below is the feasibilty study done in 2004 by the county…it’s 70 pages for your reading pleasure:




  1. Dana Ferri says:

    My husband has fond memories of fishing off Werder pier in the late 70’s. Too bad this Foster City landmark has to suffer the vagaries of political correctness.

  2. I looked at the photos on the link you posted here and just can’t believe that two lanes of traffic drove over that! I can’t fathom the traffic headaches that must have transpired out there. WOW

  3. Isn’t that the truth! I saw in that report that at the end of it’s useful lifespan 56,000 cars a day were using this bridge! Amazing!

  4. SteveTinFC says:

    Just a clarification. The City of Foster City currently does NOT administer the bathrooms out there. That, as of this date, is still the jurisdiction of the County. However, that being said, what the County has told the City it wants to do is transfer administration (if not ownership) of those bathrooms to the City. City staff are meeting with County officials to discuss whether or not the City wants to take on that amenity and the corrresponding liability. I think ‘trailblazers’ would all like to have a bathroom at that location (the only other one readily accessible to my knowledge is Sea Cloud Park), but there is an operational and liability issue that the Parks and Recreation Director is looking into with Council officials. A decision on that will be coming forth in the next 90 days or so.


  5. Really neat article. I always wondered what the heck that thing was doing out there. Now I know.

  6. Thanks Jim for this interesting article. The more I read on this blog site, the more I learn about our beloved Foster City.

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