the bay area’s most beautiful (and least-known) bridge...
...is about 20 miles south of San Francisco on the Junipero Serra Freeway (I-280). The Eugene A. Doran Memorial Bridge is part of a series of freeway structures commissioned by CalTrans (the state’s Department of Transportation) in the ’60s from architect Mario Ciampi of San Rafael, renowned for his work in reinforced concrete structures. Other Ciampi designs include the University Art Museum and the Newman Center Chapel in Berkeley. The bridge was completed in 1967 and two years later was named for Officer Doran, a Hillsborough patrolman killed in the line of duty near the bridge site in 1959.
To reach the Junipero Serra Freeway from the East Bay, take the Bay Bridge. Stay on US 101; don’t bother with the “280 – Daly City” turnoff, which will add several mostly uninspiring miles to the trip. Take the turnoff for Interstate 380 instead, several miles south of the City, get in the left lanes, and you’ll enter I-280 heading south for San José after less than two miles.
After about seven miles, you’ll see the Black Mtn Road / Hayne Road exit; shortly after this, look for a sign reading “Eugene A. Doran Memorial Bridge.” Most people on this freeway – including quite a few natives – are completely unaware that they’re actually on a bridge nearly 400 feet high here. About a mile and a half past Black Mtn / Hayne is the exit for Bunker Hill Drive. Take this turnoff, and turn right at the bottom of the ramp onto Skyline Blvd. Shortly you will see the remarkable structure you just drove over; you can turn right onto Crystal Springs Road and drive under the bridge along San Mateo Creek, the creek that necessitated building the bridge. Either find a place to turn around (careful – blind curves!), or go a little further to Polhemus Road, where after about a mile you can turn right onto Bunker Hill and return to the freeway. If you double back under the bridge instead, you can turn either way on Crystal Springs Road, returning to the freeway via Bunker Hill Road (left) or Hayne Road (right).
(this was written for some out-of-towners staying in Emeryville; if you can get yourself on the Serra freeway, you can find it.)