At last, Pleasanton to complete Iron Horse TrailBack in 1986 when the East Bay Regional Park District was dreaming big, it envisioned an Iron Horse Trail that reached from the Carquinez Strait in Martinez to the Livermore Valley. That pathway would follow the old Southern Pacific Rail Lines built in 1891 and abandoned in 1977. The old rail line was ideal for trail conversion: It was already a straight, gently graded path that linked several cities. But turning this vision into a reality has been 25 years in the making. Segments have been added slowly as funds became available and opportunities presented themselves.
Now, with all but a 1.6-mile segment of the trail completed to where it stops at Valley Avenue and Busch Road near Stanley Boulevard in Pleasanton, the final link is about to be added. Thanks to $4 million in regional and federal grants, the city of Pleasanton and the Park District, which owns the railroad right of way, are poised to complete the project.
Tuesday, the City Council is expected to ratify the EBRPD Master Plan for the permanent alignment of the Iron Horse Trail through the Hacienda Business Park, closing the missing gap with a paved trail and protected street crossings that will give joggers, bicyclists and others a direct path to the BART station at Hacienda and then as far into Contra Costa County as they want to go. When completed in 2012, the Iron Horse Trail will link Pleasanton to the whole regional trail system.
Determining the route of this 1.6-mile trail extension took extensive work. The Park District's 150-page, bound "Iron Horse Trail Feasibility Study and Master Plan" contains dozens of pages of colored maps and photos. It is the work of Callander Associates, trail and greenway planners, and Fehr & Peers, a biotic resources group whose designers and engineers take the trail across five streets, two creeks, two parks and through a number of housing developments. Those living in the Sienna and Valencia housing developments in Hacienda, for instance, will soon find the unused land in their back yards to be a pathway for hundreds of walkers and hikers for the first time. The trail also will pass through the northern portion of Creekside Park and the northern edge of Springhouse Apartments. Utilizing the existing Santa Rita Road bridge, it will traverse the Arroyo Mocho canal, cross the busy Santa Rita Road/Stoneridge Drive intersection, and then connect to the existing section of the Iron Horse Trail that was dedicated three years ago.
An added bonus: the trail planners also chose to leave two rows of pepper trees alongside the Kaiser Permanente buildings with the trail running down the middle. That should make it one of the most picturesque, relaxing portions of the 28-mile trail system that Pleasanton is finally joining.