Miles-long Contra Costa trail to get safety improvements

The Delta De Anza Regional Trail, a popular east-west pathway in eastern Contra Costa County, is about to get some safety improvements, including flashing lights that bicyclists and pedestrians can activate at busy road crossings.

The improvements will be funded in large part by a nearly $4.5-million grant from a Bay Area regional transportation agency.

The Pittsburg City Council unanimously accepted the Metropolitan Transportation Commission grant that calls for a match of $507,777, which would be split among Pittsburg, Bay Point, Antioch and Contra Costa County — where a portion of the trail scheduled for improvements runs.

The project has three objectives: improving safety primarily at crossings, making the trail more inviting for bicyclists and encouraging people to get out of their cars and reduce carbon emissions, noted Pittsburg Public Works Director/City Engineer John Samuelson.

“This project will primarily look at the crossings,” he said at Monday’s council meeting. “There are several crossings … that have been identified as areas of concern and this project will be able to address some of those safety concerns.”

Pittsburg, which applied for the grant, will take the lead on improvements to 16 miles of the trail, which includes 35 trail crossings, Samuelson said.

Named to commemorate Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza’s route during an 18th-century expedition, the paved, multi-use Delta De Anza trail is planned to eventually extend over 25 miles from Concord to East Contra Costa County. The trail is one of the three major ones in East Contra Costa, the others being the Mokelumne Trail and the Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail.

Some of the planned improvements include installing raised crosswalks, rapid rectangular flashing beacons, high visibility crosswalks, lighting, signage and green bike lanes at intersections and installing sustainable landscaping, lighting, trail pavement, fencing and other improvements. Also to be explored will be additional lighting, along with bicycle repair stations and new pavement.

A pedestrian walks on the Delta De Anza Regional Trail in Antioch. (Eddie Ledesma/staff archives) 

Right now “you can see it is really just a trail with open space on the sides, not a lot of amenities, not a lot of beautification,” Samuelson said. “It has a lot of potential to be even better.”

Bicyclist Bruce Ohlson said he supported the project but added that not all crosswalks needed the rapid rectangular flashing beacons.

“I’m speaking tonight for all bicyclists in East County, including the Bay Point bicyclists and the Antioch bicyclists who will be influenced by this project,” he said. “Thank you … and I’m sure quality design work and quality work will be done. But I would like to point out that some quiet residential streets across which the path goes do not need our RRFBs (rapid rectangular flashing beacons); other residential streets are raceways and certainly strongly need these RRFBs.”

Samuelson said wayfinding signage also will be added so residents can see where they can get to by using the trail. “Whether it be businesses, schools, parks, places of worship, you can really access a whole lot of areas within our city and our community through this trail,” he said.

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Councilwoman Dionne Adams wanted to know how the costs would be split and if Antioch or the county had expressed interest.

The public works director said the costs should be divided based on the dollar amount of the improvements in each city or town. Though both Antioch and county staffs expressed interest early on, they have yet to commit any matching grant monies, Samuelson said. If no one else wants to participate, Pittsburg would pay the entire match amount and make all the improvements in the city’s portion of the trail, he said.

And while there’s flexibility in how the money is spent, Samuelson said he recommends making safety measures a priority.

“I really do want to commend staff for prioritizing safety,” Councilwoman Angelica Lopez added. “I think beautification is important but not necessary at this point, because the last thing I want to see is another child hurt.”

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