After more than 20 years of negotiations and planning, and one year of intensive repairs, a popular roadway-turned-trail was reborn and reopened to the public on Saturday, November 8 by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD).
About 300 people, including officials, bicyclists, hikers, and park supporters, cheered as the beautifully restored trail was officially dedicated honoring retiring U.S. Congressman George Miller, a ranking member in the House of Representatives. Congressman Miller came out with his family to share in the excitement as he cut the ribbon to inaugurate the George Miller Regional Trail on the site of the old Martinez Intermodal to Crockett, closed in 1983 due to landslides.
When it first opened to the public in the early 1900’s, the road was envisioned as a pivotal community resource. “It was the first carpooling route in the United States,” said Congressman Miller during the ceremony, adding that the road was an important commercial link between the towns of Crockett and Port Costa and the city of Martinez, with trucks transporting wheat and other products back and forth. Later, the winding road known as Carquinez Scenic Loop became a commuter link for people living and working at either end of the road. The 1.7-mile renovated trail segment was renamed to honor Congressman Miller for his almost four decades of work and for his crucial support to secure funding for the restoration of the old county road.
First elected in 1974 to represent much of Contra Costa County, Miller is retiring at the end of 2014, yet his legacy of service will continue. “The new trail will complete a key segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail and will honor the culmination of Congressman Miller’s great career,” said EBRPD General Manager Robert Doyle.
During the dedication, Congressman Miller was lauded by his elected colleagues, including his successor Congressman-elect Mark DeSaulnier, State Senator Lois Wolk, and EBRPD President Ayn Wieskamp. Five long-time hiking buddies of the Congressman surprised him at the ceremony and shared stories about his passion for the outdoors. General Manager Doyle acknowledged many of Congressman Miller’s achievements, including his advocacy for critical legislation to support the Park District’s mission to protect public spaces and to attain a Federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.
The Park District was selected to receive a $10.2 million TIGER II grant from among 3,000 applicants in 2010. The George Miller Regional Trail is one of six projects that will close critical gaps in the regional trail system and safely connect communities, schools, and businesses to transportation hubs.
“This beautiful and safe trail will provide a link back to the usefulness of this road, and will create a recreation resource for people to bike and walk,” said Senior Transportation Planner for Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Brad Beck. And the trail’s visitors couldn’t agree more. “We like the views from up here,” said Martinez residents and avid hikers Emily and Mark Hopkins. “It is a new destination and a way to show off this beautiful part of the East Bay,” said Walnut Creek resident David Light, who drove exclusively to Martinez to witness the dedication.
The reconstruction of the trail cost $5.7 million, with $2.9 million provided by the TIGER II grant; $1 million from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s Measure J Pedestrian/ Bike funds; $900,000 from the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA), a federal earmark originally allocated to Contra Costa County, also acquired with help from Congressman Miller; a second SAFETEA grant for $120,000; $398,000 from the San Francisco Bay Trail Project via the State Coastal Conservancy; and $450,000 from the EBRPD’s 2008 voter-approved Measure WW. “This project is the result of very hard work and the dedicated partnerships between these agencies,” said the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Contra Costa County, Orinda Councilmember Amy Worth.
The road was repaired with large soldier pile walls, and drainage structures were rebuilt to reduce the impact of future winter rains on the trail. Portions of the failed roadway were reconstructed using a cold in-place asphalt recycling process, resulting in a new 10 to 12-foot wide paved segment.
This segment completes 340 miles of the San Francisco Bay Trail, a planned 500-mile loop of hiking and bicycling trails that will circle the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays and will run around the shoreline of the nine counties and 47 cities that represent the Bay Area. It will also serve as a key link in the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail, crossing two toll bridges and all the shoreline communities of two counties.
The new multi-use trail is once again a link between the communities of Martinez, Port Costa, and Crockett, providing an accessible route for the approximately 2,400 county residents who use the trail to commute to work by bicycle or for recreational purposes. And, although the trail is closed to all motorized vehicles, it will function as an alternative emergency route for the three communities along the shoreline. The trail, also known as the old Snake Road, “will improve the environment where we live,” said Congressman Miller.
After the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Park District unveiled an Interpretive Panel that describes the contributions of Congressman Miller and the efforts to bring the new trail to life. Then, Congressman Miller, his family, friends, and park supporters went for a stroll and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery and views of the Carquinez Strait from the new trail.
The George Miller Regional Trail is open to the public from 5:00am to 10:00pm seven days a week. Bikes and pedestrian can access the trail during these hours, but cars are limited to seasonal gate schedules at staging/parking areas at both ends of the trail.
Celebrating the opening of the George Miller Regional Trail on Saturday, November 8 in Martinez are (from left): Amy Worth, Commissioner, Metropolitan Transportation Commission Contra Costa County and Orinda Councilmember; Vincent Manuel, Senior District Representative, Office of Supervisor Federal D. Glover, Contra Costa County; Beverly Lane, East Bay Regional Park District Board Director; Mark DeSaulnier, State Senator 7th District; Diane Burgis, Oakley Councilmember; Lois Wolk, State Senator 3rd District; John Sutter, East Bay Regional Park District Board Director; Whitney Dotson, East Bay Regional Park District Board Director; George Miller, Congressman 11th District; Ted Radke, East Bay Regional Park District Board Director; Robert E. Doyle, East Bay Regional Park District General Manager; Ayn Wieskamp, East Bay Regional Park District Board Director; Laura Thompson, San Francisco Bay Trail Project Manager, Association of Bay Area Governments; Janet McBride, Executive Director Bay Area Ridge Trail Council; and Anamarie Avila Farias, Martinez Councilmember.
Hiking, biking, and enjoying the new trail. Portions of the multi-use paved trail were repaired using a cold in-place asphalt recycling process and large soldier pile walls were constructed to repair landslides.
About 300 people attended the dedication ceremony where Congressman George Miller’s achievements were recognized.
Breathtaking views of the Carquinez Strait from the new trail.
In the News
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 114,000+ acres in 65 parks including over 1,200 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.
Ana Machuca-Cole, Acting Public Information Supervisor