Elk Grove to open first walk-and-bike bridge over Highway 99

04/25/2014 8:08 PM

04/25/2014 8:08 PM

Elk Grove has worked hard to carve out walking paths and bike trails, part of its long-held plan of a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city, but one barrier has always stood in its way: Highway 99. That changes Saturday when the city opens its first walk-and-bike bridge spanning the busy freeway and connecting East and West Stockton boulevards.

A 5-kilometer run and walk at 9 a.m., at 9499 E. Stockton Blvd., will commemorate the new bridge.

“Green space, schools, parks, you’ll be able to hopscotch from one side of the freeway to the other,” said Sharon Anderson, chairwoman of the city’s trails committee. “This is the first overcrossing of the highway. We had no safe crossing that you could get around without a car.”

The 1,300-foot-long bridge crossing Highway 99 is the highlight of the $7.8 million span-and-trail project from Laguna Springs Drive west of the highway to Emerald Vista Drive to the east. It’s the final piece of the city’s 4-mile Elk Grove Creek Trail and part of a larger network of nearly 30 miles of trails crisscrossing the city.

Federal and state transportation grants supplied more than $6 million of the project’s costs, said city officials. Elk Grove picked up the rest of the tab.

“It fills a gap in the trails system and provides safe crossing over (Highway) 99. It supports local business because people have better access to businesses, and it promotes walking and cycling,” said Christine Brainerd, city spokeswoman.

Cars still dominate in this growing city, but Elk Grove planners, leaders, residents and advocates have been working for more than a decade to change that.

“We’re providing alternatives for people to get out of their cars, to go shopping, to go to work,” said Jeff Werner, an Elk Grove senior civil engineer. “More and more people are looking for alternatives to vehicular travel.”

Anderson sees the bridge as part of a larger network that one day could link cyclists to Sacramento.

“We have a system of trails, east, west, north and south. This bridge is a major component of the east-west connections that will ultimately connect with downtown Sacramento,” Anderson said. “We have to look regionally.”

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