San Francisco East Bay will connect communities through largest bike path network in the country (TIGER series)October 28, 2010
By Sean Barry
Residents of the San Francisco East Bay will reap a large windfall from last week’s TIGER grants, with $10.2 million slated to go toward filling gaps in the existing Bay Trail and Iron Horse bicycle paths, giving the East Bay the largest bike path network in the United States and giving residents not only top-notch recreational trails, but viable new options for regular daily travel in the region.
Once completed, the project will stretch more than 200 miles and allow residents to bike from the edge of the San Joaquin Delta in eastern Contra Costa County to Berkeley and Oakland along the San Francisco Bay and Livermore to the south in Alameda County.
Pat O’Brien, General Manager of the East Bay Regional Park District, tasked with overseeing the funds, told the San Francisco Chronicle: “this is probably one of the most incredible things we’ve done. It’s really a hallmark for East Bay residents.”
The project is expected to create up to 500 jobs in engineering, trades, design and environmental law and compliance, according to Streetsblog San Francisco.
Many East Bay advocates for bicycling and transportation options have been around since the project’s conception.
“I’ve been working on getting this crossing funded since 2001, and it’s been nip and tuck all the way, especially when the economy tanked,” said Bruce “Ole” Ohlson of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.
Some communities covered by the trail, such as Brentwood and Antioch, are located on the suburban fringe and have been historically inaccessible to non-automotive forms of transportation. With these funds, the Mokelumne Trail will allow bicyclists access between the adjacent cities through development of a new Highway 4 bypass.
“This is the suburbs, and when they were building streets, the last thing they did was build them friendly to bicycling,” said Ohlson.
Other portions of the trail will connect to BART service, the Bay Area’s commuter rail system, expanding options for getting to work and making the highways a little less congested.
“When the Iron Horse Trail is completed to Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station, everyday is going to be Bike to Work Day in Pleasanton,” says Dave Campbell, Program Director for the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.
Several other communities, including Albany, Hercules, Martinez and Crockett will also be included in the trail extensions.
Yesterday, four members of Congress whose districts include the project — George Miller, Pete Stark, Barbara Lee and John Garamendi — joined bicyclists, East Bay Regional Park Board members and others to celebrate the TIGER award in an press conference at the portion of the project that will connect to the Coliseum/Oakland Airport station.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series profiling the winners of the US DOT’s TIGER grants on the T4 America blog. For more information about the TIGER grants, view our interactive map and list of all the winners, read the rest of the posts in this series profiling the winners, and read all TIGER-related stories with the “TIGER” tag from the blog.