Six years after the concept was approved, bicyclists, day trekkers and bay enthusiasts can expect the completion of the Berkeley Bay Trail by January.
“The trail has been long awaited but it will be a very exciting link for commuting and recreation once it’s completed,” said Parks and Waterfront Director Lisa Caronna.
Ultimately the new trail will be a link in a ribbon of 400 miles of pathways that will encircle the San Francisco and San Pablo bays.
The City Council gave its stamp of approval to the trail design July 24 and the city manager was given authorization to sign a contract with Richmond-based Bauman Landscaping Company, to construct the paved trail. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in September.
According to supervising civil engineer, Apurba Chatterjee, the 14-foot-wide trail will extend from Point Emery, near the end of Ashby Avenue, and run along the west side of West Frontage Road to Virginia Street where it will link with an existing section of the trail that extends to the Richmond Marina.
Berkeley signed an agreement with Caltrans to construct the trail in May of 1996. Originally the cost was estimated to be $2.4 million but has since increased to $3 million, including engineering costs. The state will fund most of the project and Berkeley will pony up about $78,000, according to the staff report.
The state Senate approved the “Ring Around the Bay” plan in 1987. The plan was authored by then Senator Bill Lockyer, now the state’s attorney general. The project is being overseen by the Association of Bay Area Governments which has been responsible for trail design and administration of the plan.
The Berkeley section of the trail will be part of the larger San Francisco Bay Trail which will connect nine Bay Area Counties and 47 cities with 400 miles of trail, paths and roadway that will encircle the San Francisco and San Pablo bays. According to the project’s official website, 210 miles of the trail is already completed.
The website describes the trail as having many uses.
“The Bay Trail provides easy accessible recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts including hikers, joggers, bicyclists and skaters,” the description reads. “It also has important transportation benefits, providing a commute alternative for cyclists, and connecting to numerous public transportation facilities such as ferry terminals, light-rail lines, bus stops and Caltrans, Amtrak and BART stations.”
According to the website, the trail will eventually cross all the major toll bridges in the Bay Area.
The trail will wind through beaches, marinas, fishing piers and over 130 parks and wildlife preserves for a grand total of 57,000 acres of open space. The trail also passes through urban areas such as downtown San Francisco.
The various sections will consist of paved multi-use paths, dirt trails, bike lanes and city streets.
Caronna said the Berkeley Bay Trail will also complete bicycle and pedestrian access to the Berkeley Marina from the Pedestrian Overpass once it’s completed.
“We have just received a Coastal Conservatory grant of $200,000 to study linking the trail to the Berkeley Marina,” Caronna said. “It’s very exciting to have these pathways that are connecting everything.”
For more information about the San Francisco Bay Trail go to the ABAG’s website at www.abag.ca.gov/bayarea/baytrail/index.html