Contra Costa officials awarded $1.9 million to close two gaps on Bay Trail

MARTINEZ — Bay Area pedestrians and bicyclists will soon be four miles closer to being able to explore a continuous shoreline path through nine counties and 47 cities, thanks to nearly $2 million in new federal funding for the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Congressman John Garamendi recently awarded Contra Costa County $1 million for improvements along a 3.2-mile stretch of San Pablo Avenue. The plan is to convert one of the four lanes into a “complete street” with a protected path between Rodeo and Crockett, an undertaking which is currently projected to cost $13.7 million.

Garmendi also distributed $900,000 to the East Bay Regional Park District to close a half-mile gap between the existing George Miller Regional Trail and the Intermodal Amtrak Station in downtown Martinez with a continuous, paved route. Once the project, which is estimated to cost upwards of $4 million, is complete, regional trail users will have uninterrupted access to Vallejo, Benicia, Crockett, and Martinez.

Related Articles

Transportation |

Drivers hit 196 animals on this Bay Area “roadkill hotspot.” A new project aims to make it safer.

Transportation |

South Bay equestrian community ‘in limbo’ as fate of Bear Creek Stables hangs in balance

Transportation |

New bridge and trail to expand public access at scenic South Bay open space preserve

Transportation |

How to survive a bear attack – or better yet, avoid one altogether

Transportation |

What you need to know before you go to a national park this summer

These two county and parks district projects will eventually connect to each other — creating a continuous route from Rodeo to Martinez. So far, roughly 70% of the entire 500-mile plan for the Bay Trail has been completed. In addition to increasing physical access to the shoreline for recreation, the goal of this massive project is anchored in helping communities rediscover and connect to an array of historic, natural and cultural sites that had previously been cut off by industrial development.

Garamendi, who represents California’s 8th District, said these federal dollars for community projects were earmarked within the first package budget appropriations for 2024, which was finalized in March.

“These projects will make communities that have been underinvested more livable with safer, less congested roads and better options to walk, bike, or take the train to work or school,” Garamendi said. “This was all made possible through the advocacy and passion of dozens of local leaders.”

Jeff Valeros, a senior civil engineer within Contra Costa County’s public works department, estimated that after construction crews may not break ground on the stretch of San Pablo Avenue until 2027. He said the project will likely take two years to complete due to the need to navigate around existing traffic intersections along the busy corridor.

“We want to make sure that the pedestrians and bicycles are not put in a position where they’re having really awkward, uncomfortable movements next to the trucks and vehicles moving out there,” Valeros said.

Bay Area officials have been working for nearly four decades to complete the 500-mile trail, which was the brainchild of state Senator Bill Lockyer in 1986.

Colin Coffey, who sits on the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) board representing the northern shoreline from Hercules to Brentwood, said in addition to challenges navigating the complex geography and terrain along that stretch of Contra Costa County, the gap closure project connecting Berrellesa Street in downtown Martinez to the hills of the George Miller Regional Trail has been delayed by regulatory issues, largely tied to the railroad tracks that serve Amtrak and Union Pacific trains.

“The easy parts of the Bay Trail have been done,” Coffey said. “If you look at East Bay’s system of trails and parks, it’s just remarkable that we have leaders and community members who are really supportive of going to the trouble of time and money to do this work.”

In June 2018, the EBRPD completed a $13.2 million, 1,100-foot bridge over the railroad tracks in Pinole along the Bay Trail — a fifth-of-a-mile project that was one of the agency’s priciest and most complicated in recent memory. A one-mile extension of the trail behind the now-closed Golden Gate Fields racetrack — stretching from Gilman Street in Berkeley to Albany Beach — was finished in July 2020. Built over two years, the $18.9 million project filled one of the largest gaps in the 18 miles from Richmond to Oakland.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who lives along the Bay Trail in Richmond, said he’s excited to see these projects move forward, which will further benefit the health and equity of historically low-income, disadvantaged communities.

“These are expensive projects, but they’re about health, equity and providing access to the Bay and a means of transportation,” Gioia said. “I see every day the diversity of use of that trail — people of all ages, races and ethnicities, people fishing, walking their dog and being out with their kids … Without federal funding, we often can’t really complete these projects.”

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *