LIVERMORE — If the East Bay Regional Park District’s (EBRPD) recent application for federal grant funding is accepted, the City of Livermore might gain some help in connecting to the Iron Horse Trail.
Following a conversation with EBRPD officials — who announced the application was underway — Livermore Mayor Bob Woerner reported he would like to see his city staff begin the work of identifying high-priority segments of the path and where rights-of-way will need to be acquired.
“Let's proceed to get the rights-of-way for those (segments of land), so that when a funding opportunity comes along, the project is doable, quickly,” he said. “The Iron Horse Trail goes along an old railroad line, and in order to make connections on it, it may not be all on one railroad line — you might have to go through some private property as well … that’s my presumption.”
With the rights-of-way along Railroad Avenue of particular interest, Woerner noted that there are various landowners to work with before construction can begin. Building out segments of the trail includes paving the path. He said that if the EBRPD gains the funding, the areas typically chosen for construction are those that are the most shovel-ready.
More than 30 miles long from Concord to the Tri-Valley, the Iron Horse Trail is a multi-use path that runs through multiple cities and two counties within the EBRPD’s jurisdiction. It follows the Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way established in 1891, which was later abandoned in 1978. A 2014 segment of the trail closed a gap of 1.8 miles from the Pleasanton/Dublin BART station to Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton. That connection opened to the public on Aug.19, 2014 after almost 30 years of planning and funding efforts. Now retired, Robert Doyle — formerly the EBRPD’s general manager — said the Iron Horse Trail is the result of “almost 30 years of efforts by the East Bay Regional Park District, agency partners, elected officials and communities to gain support and the critical funding to make it possible.”
In November last year, Livermore installed a pedestrian bridge over Murrieta Boulevard. The installation of the bridge was part one of a two-part project designed to tie Livermore to the Iron Horse Trail. During construction of the bridge, Roberto Escobar, engineer and manager for the project, expressed the hope that the 1-mile path to the west along Stanley Boulevard to connect to the Iron Horse Trail would be complete this year. The trail currently ends at Isabel Avenue, but the city’s map of its proposed extension goes east along Railroad Avenue and crosses First Street near Junction Avenue before running parallel to Las Positas Road and meeting up with the Brushy Peak trail at the Altamont Pass.
Shari Jackman, Dublin communications manager, said that her city is currently using a different $1.5 million “Safe Routes to BART” grant to construct its own Dublin Boulevard overcrossing bridge. The bridge is under construction now, though its completion date is unknown.
At present, the Iron Horse Trail begins in Concord near Highway 4. It runs south through Walnut Creek and crosses eastward under I-680 at Rudgear Road. From there, the trail passes through rural and residential areas to connect with downtown Alamo and the Alamo Square shopping center. Continuing south, the trail follows a greenbelt through residential areas and into downtown Danville. It crosses Danville Boulevard, passes back under I-680, and continues south past Pine Valley Road to the county line in San Ramon extending to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station and further on to Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area.
Eventually, the Iron Horse Trail will continue extending to cover about 55 miles, connecting 12 cities from Livermore to Suisun Bay in Contra Costa County.
Woerner said that it could take staff months to determine which rights-of-way are needed for the city to acquire before possible construction begins.