Danville Express

Perspective - October 19, 2007

Fine-tuning the trail

San Ramon hosted a meeting this week to discuss building three Iron Horse Trail overcrossings, at Sycamore Valley Road in Danville and Crow Canyon and Bollinger Canyon roads in San Ramon. We back this plan, despite the expense and years of planning it will entail: An overcrossing would not only be safer for trail users crossing Sycamore Valley Road, it would cause less disruption to traffic.

Walnut Creek went through the planning process in the 1990s to build an Iron Horse Trail overcrossing at its main thoroughfare, Ygnacio Valley Road. After years of discussions on the feasibility of the project - especially focusing on how it would impact the environment visually - the overcrossing was finally built and dedicated in May 1998. It is now applauded by cycling and pedestrian groups.

The Contra Costa County Redevelopment Agency for many years has been planning an Iron Horse Trail overcrossing across Treat Boulevard at Jones Road near the Pleasant Hill BART station. This process also has entailed community workshops plus a "visual preference study" to compare the different possible types of overcrossings: railroad truss, cable-stayed, arch or concrete girder. Agency Director Jim Kennedy said they are in the final design phase of the project, and he hopes it will go out to bid in the spring.

The Treat Boulevard site is complex, with other roads crossing it and exiting freeway traffic as well as BART. Kennedy said the setting is just as complicated underground because the historic railroad right of way has lines for water, sewers, high pressure jet fuel, fiber optics, cable TV and telephone. The cost was estimated at $3.7 million in 2004 but he said it must be way higher now.

The Danville-San Ramon study involves four agencies: those two cities as well as the county and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. A federal grant of $100,000 is paying for the study, which is currently being conducted by Callendar and Associates. Sycamore Valley Road is a major thoroughfare to the housing developments that line Camino Tassajara as far as Blackhawk and beyond. It is especially complex where the Iron Horse Trail crosses, with traffic exiting the freeway as well as Camino Ramon and the Park and Ride. The trail would be far "friendlier" if users did not have to stop to wait for the light at the busy thoroughfare. Plus traffic at this congested corner also would move more smoothly.


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