Ground was broken Tuesday morning on a 794-foot project to connect trails in Pleasanton and Dublin that end abruptly at Interstate 580, frustrating folks who would like to continue to the other side.
"This is one of those pinch points, and it is going to be un-pinched," said East Bay Regional Park District Board Member Beverly Lane.
On the Pleasanton side is a north-south portion of the Centennial Trail partly along the Arroyo de la Laguna that stops at I-580. In Dublin, the Alamo Canal Trail branches off the Iron Horse Trial to head south and end at I-580 behind the Dublin Library.
The Park District has been working on the project to connect the two trails with the cities of Pleasanton and Dublin, Alameda County Transportation Commission, Zone 7 Water Agency and Caltrans to come to agreements on closing the gap and providing funding. The last $1 million for the $2.4 million project is coming from federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) funds.
"We were unanimously interested in having this happen," Lane said.
This morning officials sank their shovels into the earth near the current end of the Alamo Trail in Dublin to begin the project, which is scheduled for completion in the fall. The trail connection will be formed by cutting into the bank of the waterway that goes under the freeway.
"For the first time we are doing something significant to help people get somewhere without getting into a car," East Bay Regional Park District Board Member Ayn Wieskamp told the crowd. The project is in her Ward 5. "It proves we can work together and achieve things."
The project, the Park District's first Green Transportation Initiative, is being lauded as a safe route away from traffic for people on foot, bikes or skates to travel between schools, homes and their destinations in Pleasanton and Dublin.
In a reference to the rainy day, Wieskamp predicted great weather in the fall when the project is completed and the trails are finally connected.
Both U.S. congressmen Jerry McNerney (D., 11th) and Peter Stark (D., 13th) were in attendance along with local elected officials.
"I live on the other side of 580 and have wanted to be able to get over here for years," McNerney said, noting also that the project will create desperately needed jobs.
"George Miller (7th District congressman) and myself opened the Iron Horse Trail many years ago. I wish George were here," Stark said.
Other funding for the project is coming from the Federal Transportation Improvement Plan, Alameda County's Measure B, the Park District's Measure WW and the cities. It will provide a link to the Pleasanton BART station, shopping areas, parks, the Alameda County Fairgrounds, office parks, civic centers and downtowns.