Friday, January 10, 2014

The Bay Trail in Richmond: Success breeds success

We in the S.F. Bay Area have an amazing number of trails. In addition to all the trails within the East Bay Regional Park District (1,200 miles!), we have trails within the EBMUD lands, Mid-Peninsula Water District, in our State and National Parks, and more. There are two major trails in progress around the Bay--the Bay Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail. As their names suggest, the Bay Trail sits close to the water and the Ridge Trail follows the ridgelines of hills around the bay.

The following report is from TRAC, the Trails for Richmond Action Committee. (Although it may be more technical than some people want to read all the way through, I am posting it for those who are interested in the details. The pdf, with many photos and maps is here.) I am very excited about receiving this report for three major reasons:

  1. to inform people about the Bay Trail,
  2. to give kudos to TRAC for their hard work and significant role in getting the 32 miles of Bay Trail built in Richmond
  3. to call attention to the fact that a handful of determined and hardworking people can accomplish major goals in their communities.

Sometimes we despair about the state of our lives, cities, country, or world. The following is an wonderful example of what can be done with vision and commitment:

THE BAY TRAIL IN RICHMOND NEW YEAR 2014 REPORT
This 15th New Year Report by TRAC, the Trails for Richmond Action Committee, highlights 2013 achievements and describes plans for completing the San Francisco Bay Trail in Richmond. Richmond now has over 32 miles of Bay Trail built -- more than any other city on this planned 500-mile hiking and biking route encircling San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. However, ten miles of
gaps still remain as shown at the end of this report.

The most exciting event during 2013 was the roll out of two new trail sections between Ferry Point and the Shipyard 3 Trail. Less glamorous, but essential, was progress made across all phases of work required to close other gaps in the Bay Trail route. This included planning trail alignments, obtaining easements, securing funds, preparing permit applications with environmental reports, developing trail designs and advertising for construction bids.

Completing the Ferry Point Loop
Trains ... bricks ... ferries ... troopships: the 4.4-mile  Ferry Point Loop encircling Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline and the newly linked Shipyard 3 Trail  represent some  of  the  most  historic  and  scenic sections of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

The City of Richmond completed construction plans to close three of the four gaps remaining in the Ferry Point Loop. Funding was secured for construction when the City Council appropriated $489,000 of Cosco Busan oil spill damage funds to supplement the $537,000 resulting from grant applications prepared by TRAC. The City’s contractor, W.R. Forde, is finishing building of two sections. One has opened a scenic new stretch of shoreline linking Brickyard Cove Road with the Shipyard 3 Trail. The other extends from the western side of Brickyard Landing condos  to  Dornan  Drive near  Ferry  Point.  The  City is poised  to advertise for bids to build the third section running past the Plunge between Cutting Blvd. and the Ferry Point tunnel.

Construction of the last Bay Trail section on the Ferry Point Loop awaits planned shoreline residential development on the City’s historic Terminal One property at the foot of Dornan Drive.

Protruding over a mile into San Pablo Bay, Point Pinole Regional Shoreline (PPRS), is the largest shoreline park in the Bay Area. Although 4.5 miles of Bay Trail are located within the park, it is isolated from the spine Bay Trail system in Richmond and nearby Pinole. EBRPD is working to remedy that by developing southern, eastern and northern linkages. The Park District has completed near final (90+%) construction plans for both eastern and southern Bay Trail connections with PPRS. The eastern approach from the end of Atlas Road
requires building a bridge over the Union Pacific railroad corridor. Construction is anticipated to begin this summer and be completed in 2015.

The southern connection to PPRS will be a 1.5-mile trail between Goodrick Avenue and the existing Bay View Trail in the park. This is an integral part of the Breuner Marsh Restoration & Public Access Project, which has been approved by the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife with other regulatory permits in an advanced stage of review. Construction of habitat improvements will begin late summer or early fall if all goes well with permits issued early this year. The Bay Trail and other public access improvements are expected to open in late 2015 as one of the final stages of this $8 million project, which includes a 1,500 foot
long elevated boardwalk across Giant Marsh.

EBRPD also is working to obtain easements needed for the planned Bay Trail route leading north to Pinole from Atlas Road. The Sares Regis Group cooperated in 2013 by granting an easement for the first 250 yards of this trail.
Connecting with Point Molate More than half of Richmond’s uncompleted Bay Trail -- 5.5 miles -- lies between the Plunge and Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor. The City of Richmond restored public access to a portion of the Point San Pablo Peninsula’s shoreline when it reopened Point Molate Beach Park with its spectacular Bay views including Red Rock, Mount Tampalpais and the
Richmond/San Rafael bridge. However, it is not possible to walk or bicycle safely to this park from elsewhere in the City.

The keystone to providing Bay Trail access to Point Molate and the rest of the Point San Pablo Peninsula is a planned one-mile trail between the bus stop at Castro St. & Tewksbury Ave. and the existing trail under the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge west of the toll plaza. A co-operative agreement was signed between the City and Caltrans that, among other things, funds Caltrans’
staff time to review preliminary engineering plans and construction cost estimates, as well as an environmental assessment. City of Richmond
consultants made progress in 2013 by developing 35% engineering designs for the Locally Preferred Alternative. This route follows a re-aligned shoulder area of the Castro Street off-ramp before climbing to the top of Chevron’s Office Hill and then touching down near the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge toll plaza via an 1,100 foot long elevated trail bridge as illustrated on the left.

Conceptual Design of Bay Trail Flyover SE of Bridge Toll Plaza
The focus in 2014 will be reaching consensus on trail alignment, basic design features, and project alternatives. These will be evaluated in environmental documents to be prepared after Caltrans approves a “Project Study Report/Project Development Support” report. Engineering and construction funding plans will advance following approval and certification of environmental
reports.

Incorporating the Bay Trail in Development Projects
TRAC worked during 2013 to ensure that new development projects include construction of new or improved Bay Trail sections in accordance with the Richmond General Plan provisions:
“Require all new commercial, industrial and residential development to provide access for construction and operation of a trail where a local or regional trail is designated or planned. Include provisions that require owners of property along the shoreline to provide maximum feasible public access to the shoreline and to complete the Bay Trail as part of any project approval process.”

This included the planned Richmond Bay Campus of UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as well as five proposed residential and commercial projects in the Brickyard Cove and Marina Bay areas.

Thank you for supporting completion of the Bay Trail in Richmond. Please
share this report with your friends and neighbors, encouraging them to join
the Richmond Bay Trail Network at no cost by e-mailing tracbaytrail@earthlink.net.
For maps, a calendar of events and other information about the Bay Trail in Richmond, please visit http://pointrichmond.com/baytrail/.

TRAC Steering Committee: Donald Bastin, Bruce Beyaert, Bruce
Brubaker, Whitney Dotson, Jerry Rasmussen and Nancy Strauch

editor: I hope you have some great plans for working on trails in 2014.

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