$10.2 Million Grant Allows for Expansion of East Bay Bike Trails

Photo: Some bike paths in the Bay Area are set to be expanded after the East Bay Regional Park District received millions in federal funding. The trail network will be the largest in the country.
Karen Ling/Photo
Some bike paths in the Bay Area are set to be expanded after the East Bay Regional Park District received millions in federal funding. The trail network will be the largest in the country.

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Benefitting from a $10.2 million grant awarded to the East Bay Regional Park District, trails stretching from Richmond to the Dumbarton Bridge in the South Bay will soon form the largest network of bicycling trails in the United States.

The funds, which the district received on Oct. 20 through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, are earmarked to link the various bike trails throughout the East Bay in order to create a massive web encompassing an area of more than 200 miles.

The list of projected renovations using the funds should take about 10 to 15 years to complete.

This is the largest amount of grant money ever awarded to the 76-year-old district, which received the funding over about 700 other districts that applied across the country.

"It's awesome that (the district) is committing funding to bike projects," said Rebecca Stievater, outreach organizer for the East Bay Bike Coalition. "It's not just car-centric projects anymore."

Specific areas of improvement include building an underpass beneath Interstate 580 in Pleasanton and connecting a Bay Trail gap between Gilman and Buchanan streets in Berkeley and Albany, in addition to patching up the "gnarly portions" of other trails, according to Hathaway Pines resident Mary Boblet, director of the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail Council and coordinator of the Upper Mokelumne River Canyon Segment.

"Where I live, the U.S. Forest Service is the steward of the trail," she said. "Partnering with the federal government is helping to subsidize and get labor done."

In addition to the renovations made to East Bay trails, the project is expected to create about 500 engineering and design jobs for the region and to help build a stronger network of transportation reform experts, according to Shannon Tracey, California field organizer for Transportation For America.

"In California, (Transportation For America has) 70 partner organizations and stakeholders," she said. "When the rubber hits the pavement, our main focus is increasing accountability."

Tracey added that the program will allow communities with the least amount of choice regarding transportation options, such as East Oakland, to have the same access to reliable transportation as other parts of the East Bay.

The trails are important not only to facilitate daily commutes throughout Downtown Oakland and Berkeley, but also to foster tourism and exploration of nature, according to Boblet. She said the Mokelumne Trail, for example, is one of 24 recognized by California's government as an economic asset to the state and with the improvements, it would attract even more avid bikers.

"We want Californians to be healthy and to be good stewards of their community," she said. "If the rest of the world can do it, why can't we?"


Contact True Shields at [email protected]

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