Transportation

Sacramento launches plans for bike trail through south city neighborhoods

The city hopes to turn an old rail line in south Sacramento into a multi-use recreation and commute trail, to be called Del Rio Trail.
The city hopes to turn an old rail line in south Sacramento into a multi-use recreation and commute trail, to be called Del Rio Trail. rpench@sacbee.com

With $2.2 million in federal funds secured, Sacramento city officials said they are ready this week to begin designing the most ambitious “rails to trails” project in the region, a 4.5-mile bike trail on an old train corridor through south Sacramento.

The city’s staff will ask the City Council on Tuesday to give the go-ahead to begin environmental reviews for what the city is calling the Del Rio Trail, and to set up community meetings likely early next year to solicit input.

The paved path would run north-south through Meadowview, South Land Park and other neighborhoods between Interstate 5 and Freeport Boulevard. It would start at Meadowview and Pocket roads on the south and likely end at Sutterville Road on the north.

City officials said the trail would offer south Sacramento residents a bicycle and pedestrian route to William Land Park and the Sacramento Zoo, and will serve as a safer bicycle commute route part of the way to downtown.

The paved trail would be on a corridor that once held a branch of the Sacramento Southern Railroad, where trains traveled until 1978, bringing agricultural products to market. Most of the corridor still has tracks and is tucked in residential areas, often directly behind backyards. Some of it already is used as a walking area.

“If you just walk the corridor, you can see what a tremendous amenity it will be,” city engineer Jesse Gothan said. “It will really encourage people to ride their bikes. None of those neighborhoods has a dedicated multiuse bike and ped trail.”

Sacramento joins Davis, Folsom, Citrus Heights and other local communities in a growing effort to create inner-city trails for cyclists, pedestrians, runners and dog-walkers connecting neighborhoods, schools, parks, stores and jobs with minimal exposure to cars. The proposed trail passes through some neighborhoods that do not have sidewalks or bike lanes.

It will take at least several years to raise money to build the project, if the concept is approved by the City Council. An early cost estimate is roughly $17 million. The city has not yet come up with full funding sources, but officials say they are confident that will happen. Construction is likely at least two years away.

The city’s staff also is asking for the council’s OK to apply for a federally owned parcel, formerly used as an aviation marker for Executive Airport, at Palomar Circle, to be used as one of the entry points from the neighborhood. The federal surplus land program would provide the land for free.

The project may require some negotiations with the state. Gothan said city officials would like to talk with state parks officials about extending the trail north of Sutterville Road – into territory the state intends to use as part of its excursion line to the zoo. That way, bikers and pedestrians could get to the river via an old railroad bridge over Interstate 5 rather than having to run along Sutterville Road.

Gothan said the city will have to find a safe way for pedestrians and cyclists to cross busy Sutterville and Fruitridge roads. That will include consideration of a bridge over Fruitridge and a traffic signal at Sutterville.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak

For more information

The city has a Del Rio Trail page on its website at sacb.ee/6kkC.

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