By Kathy Chouteau
The San Francisco Bay Trail just got a lot longer, and the shoreline is now more people-friendly.
On Saturday, the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) celebrated the completion of a project that included a one-mile extension of the Bay Trail from Gilman Street to Albany Beach west of Golden Gate Fields. The extension removes one of the largest gaps in the Bay Trail to create 18 miles of continuous trail from Richmond to Oakland.
Amid the pandemic, the celebration of the project was closed to the public, but was livestreamed via Facebook and YouTube. It marked the culmination of a two-year initiative and $18.9 million project by the Regional Park District and community that saw the roll-out of a three-phase improvement plan.
Enhancements as part of the project included: Shoreline restoration and trail improvements along the Albany Neck during Phase One; Albany Beach habitat and public access improvements, encompassing a new shoreline staging area with parking, walking trails, picnic tables and restrooms during Phase Two; and, as aforementioned, a new one-mile segment of the Bay Trail along the waterfront during Phase Three.
Park District General Manager Robert Doyle and Park District Ward 1 Board Member Elizabeth Echols both spoke during the livestreamed celebration.
Of the Bay Trail phase of the project, Doyle said it has now connected previously “unconnected pieces of the 8.5 mile McLaughlin East shore State Park, which the East Bay Regional Park District planned acquired and developed on behalf of the State of California as our principal partner.”
Doyle took time to thank his park staff for their efforts, particularly toward keeping the parks open during the pandemic. He noted that the project’s completion coincides with a time that the public needs the parks “more than ever,” and that they are “truly essential right now.”
“We really have had to struggle to keep our parks open, but they’re open, they’re open for you, and you can help us keep those parks open…by wearing a mask and keeping us safe—six feet or more apart—and we really want to thank you for that cooperation,” said Doyle.
For her part, Echols reflected on the longtime project cooperation that resulted in its successful completion.
“Today is the legacy of 20 years of collaboration and partnerships with community with elected leaders, and with the park district and many, many other stakeholders and I really want to express my heartfelt appreciation for all of those people who worked so hard over the years to make this possible,” she said, while also thanking the “voting public.”
“We now have the ability to walk all the way from Emeryville to Richmond on this beautiful trail, so eight and a half miles of trail along this along this pathway which wasn’t possible before…it’s just a fabulous place to walk or bike or sit and look at the views which are stunning…”
The best way to enjoy the improvements made to the Bay Trail and shoreline is to go and experience it in person. Albany Beach, McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, is located at 1 Buchanan St. in Albany. Learn more about it here.