Following last week’s City Council meeting, councilmembers took another step toward completion of the Richmond Greenway, a bike and pedestrian trail in Richmond that will soon connect to the Ohlone Greenway.
The council approved a contract with Ghilotti Construction Company, a Santa Rosa-based firm with offices around the Bay Area. The amount of the contract is “not to exceed $1,771,910.25, including a 10% contingency,” according to the meeting agenda.
“The city is excited to see this project move forward to close the gap between Ohlone and Richmond, providing for additional pedestrian and bicycle activity,” said Lina Velasco, a City of Richmond Project Manager.
Much of the Richmond Greenway runs along a former Santa Fe railway corridor. The project began in the 1970s, when the city of Richmond set aside 32 acres of railroad as recreation and open space under its General Plan.
In 1996, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a national nonprofit dedicated to converting old railway lines to mixed-use trails, opened its Western regional office in San Francisco and partnered with the city on the project.
The project’s first phase, construction of the trail from Garrard Boulevard to 23rd Street, broke ground in 2006. The second phase, construction from 23rd Street to San Pablo Avenue, opened in 2010.
In 2011, the city designated the Greenway a public park. Since then, additional public parks have been built along the Greenway. One project in the works is the $5 million, state grant-funded Unity Park, a community-designed park expected to have a gazebo, playground and murals.
Richmond-Ohlone Greenway Gap Closure, the third phase in the Greenway development, will connect the Ohlone Greenway and Richmond Greenway. Once this gap has been closed, two other gaps in the Richmond Greenway will remain. Once those are closed, the two finished greenways will make one continuous, roughly 7.7-mile trail.
Yader Bermudez, the project’s Engineering Director, said that this next phase of the project will create a pedestrian bridge and safer crossing in an area that was previously covered in weeds and looked like a “dumping site.”
The completed Richmond-Ohlone gap closure “will bring back the beauty” of the defunct former railway corridor and surrounding areas, Bermudez said.
The completed span will cross San Pablo at Baxter Creek and follow Ohio Avenue to meet up with the San Francisco Bay Trail at Garrard Avenue.
“Making the connection between Greenway and Ohlone will really help improve access to transit areas and commercial areas,” said Barry Bergman, the RTC Trail Development Manager at the Western Regional Office.
Friends of Richmond Greenway (FORG), a consortium of 17 neighborhood and stewardship groups that formed in 2006, works with the city to maintain the Greenway.
“Communities always benefit when people have something to do,” said Najari Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Rich City Rides, a Richmond-based bicycle advocacy group and FORG member. “It’s really about activating a space by filling it in… Things don’t have to be vacant lots.”