Work starts on closing 'a critical gap' of Bay Trail

Fifteen years in the making, new segment expected to open in summer 2020

Construction has begun on a new segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail in the Ravenswood Preserve near East Palo Alto.

“The new trail will close a critical 0.6-mile gap in the Bay Trail between University Avenue and Ravenswood Preserve,” the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District said in a statement. “Benefits of the project include improved access to nature and outdoor recreation for local residents and new commute routes for cyclists.”

Workers will restore habitat and salt marsh wetlands around the area will be enhanced as part of the project, including refuge islands that will help shelter endangered Cooley Marsh wildlife such as the salt marsh harvest mouse and a shorebird called the Ridgway’s rail.

The project is east of University Avenue, south of the abandoned Dumbarton rail line, north of East Palo Alto’s University Village neighborhood and west of the existing Bay Trail segment in the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve in Menlo Park.

The preserve will be accessed by a new stretch of sidewalk along University Avenue, leading to a raised boardwalk, a bridge with an overlook and interpretive signs.

“This is truly a celebratory moment, as today marks a major milestone nearly 15 years in the making to close a critical gap in the Bay Trail — one that was first envisioned in 2005 to connect multiple communities and cities to their local Bayfront parks and open spaces,” Ana Ruiz, general manager of the open space district, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday.

The Bay Trail is a regionwide project to create 500 continuous miles of trails around the San Francisco Bay, cutting through 47 cities and nine counties.

The initiative to build the trail has been going on for about 30 years, and the plan is now about 70% complete, with 356 of the 500 trail miles done, Bay Trail Project Manager Laura Thompson told The Almanac in February. Conversations and planning for this specific trail segment have gone on for about 20 years, she added.

The Ravenswood trail segment, when complete, will connect 80 miles of trails that will run north to Bedwell Bayfront Park, east to Fremont and south to Santa Clara, she said. It will enable bike commuters headed northbound from Mountain View or Santa Clara to take the trail farther than they can now. The trail will run parallel to the Dumbarton rail corridor so that cyclists will be able to connect to the road at University Avenue instead of at Bay Road in East Palo Alto, she explained.

“For this short but mighty trail segment, it took more agencies and organizations than I can count on my 10 fingers to receive the approvals and funding support necessary to reach the start of construction,” Ruiz said.

The district estimates the cost of planning, designing, engineering, permitting and building the 0.6-mile Ravenswood Bay Trail at about $5 million.

According to a statement from the district, "The trail is anticipated to open in the summer of 2020, if work can be completed in the narrow construction window constrained by seasonal restrictions for sensitive wildlife species in the area."

More information can be found at the district's website here.

Almanac reporter Kate Bradshaw contributed to this report.


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8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 14, 2019 at 3:59 pm

I would have loved to bike to work along this path when I was working at Sun Microsystems in the 1990s. Commuters and employers were asking for it back then. Why did it take so long?

3 people like this
Posted by West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 15, 2019 at 1:33 pm

@resident: Why did it take so long? here's your answer:
“For this short but mighty trail segment, it took more agencies and organizations than I can count on my 10 fingers to receive the approvals and funding support necessary to reach the start of construction,” Ruiz said.

The bureaucracy took over. Simple. Also, the reason why a .6 mile trail cost $5M. Ridiculous.

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