West Sac trail helps residents bypass busy roadway

01/31/2014 5:03 PM

02/01/2014 9:54 AM

As West Sacramento dignitaries gathered Friday morning to celebrate the city’s new 1.25-mile multi-use trail with coffee, snacks and speeches, trail users – unaware of the ribbon-cutting – kept arriving at the temporarily blocked path.

Among those who happened upon the ribbon-cutting was a guy decked out in Raiders gear walking with his headphones, two young women with infants in tow headed to an adjacent shopping center, and West Sacramento cyclist Dave Lockwood.

“This is phenomenal,” said Lockwood, who came upon the ribbon-cutting ceremony while heading home. He lauded the city for designing ways to get people off of the town’s busy main north/south thoroughfare, Jefferson Boulevard.

“It can be real dangerous because cars are going 50 mph,” Lockwood said.

The construction of the trail cost $500,000, with money coming from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and city matching funds, said Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.

The trail utilizes the right-a-way previously used by the old Yolo Short Line Railroad. The south boundary of the trail runs east of River City High School and the city’s recreation center. It extends past the Southport Town Center, terminating at South River Road.

“It coincides with a great deal of activity in that area,” said Art Schroeder, a spokesman for the city. “It’s going to serve shoppers that go to Nugget or stroll to eat,” along with bicyclists and equestrians.

Bike advocates hope to eventually extend the trail south all the way to the Delta town of Clarksburg and, to the north, connect it to the American River Parkway. The long-term vision, affirmed by the state Legislature, is a network of trails meandering through the Delta and into Contra Costa County and the Bay Area.

Jim Brown, executive director of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, applauded West Sacramento for its 2013 Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Master Plan. Rather than haphazardly siting bike trails where convenient, West Sacramento’s plan thoughtfully looks at logical routes. Brown said he would press Sacramento to adopt similar principles as it looks to update its plan.

Chris Morfas, a board member of the California Bicycle Coalition, said the trail was a good start and a sign that West Sacramento is “beginning to offer healthy (transportation) alternatives.”

West Sacramento Councilman Oscar Villegas said there weren’t any studies done to project how many people might use the trail, but those involved knew intuitively that allowing people to get from the north and south areas of town without using the harrowing Jefferson Boulevard would be a hit.

“People want alternatives,” Villegas said.

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