An effort to build a bike and pedestrian pathway connecting the half-mile gap between the Richmond Greenway, which abruptly ends at S. 2nd Street, to the San Francisco Bay Trail along Garrard Boulevard, has become an official city project.
On Tuesday, Richmond City Council voted unanimously to move forward with searching for funds and other needs to complete the trail extension project, which the city considers one of the final incomplete sections of the 3-mile Greenway, a former railroad corridor that is now a pedestrian and bicycle pathway.
Currently, the Greenway and Bay Trail are connected via Class II bike lanes on West Ohio Avenue that provide no division between motor vehicle traffic and bicyclists.
“The lack of a continuous separated trail negatively impacts the connectivity,” the city said.
In the past two years, the mayor’s office hasn’t been able to reach an agreement to locate part of the trail on property owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad Company, which is located along West Ohio Avenue beginning at S. 2nd Street. Requests to use the property have so far been denied or unanswered, according to the mayor, prompting an alternative proposal to redesign West Ohio Avenue to accommodate a buffered trail on existing city property.
“The proposed complete streets plan can bypass the need to acquire property from BNSF by utilizing the city’s right-of-way on either side of the roadway on West Ohio Avenue from South 1 Street to Garrard Boulevard,” according to city documents. “By consolidating both existing bike lanes along West Ohio Avenue to the north side of the of the roadway and repurposing 18 feet of the road’s total 60 feet of right-of-way, there would be enough space available to develop a buffered bi-directional trail without impacting the vehicular traffic lanes.”