The Pleasanton City Council voted Tuesday night to approve moving forward with the nearly mile-long center section of the long-planned Old Vineyard Avenue trail in the northeastern part of the city.
But the four council members decided to hold off on constructing the far eastern edge of the trail until city staff and the Planning Commission analyze possible alternatives after hearing from residents concerned about impacts the trail plan would have on their neighborhoods near Machado Place.
The proposal to close Old Vineyard Avenue to vehicular traffic and convert it to a public trail dates to the 1999 Vineyard Avenue Corridor Specific Plan, which outlined how the area would be developed with homes and other infrastructure. One side of the closed roadway would turn into a paved pedestrian/bicycle trail and the other into an unpaved equestrian trail.
The roughly 1.5-mile trail was to be established after the new Vineyard Avenue alignment was opened, which occurred in 2004. But Old Vineyard has remained open to traffic since, largely because of construction-related vehicle access.
The overall project, divided into three phases, would see the trail extend from the Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area back entrance at the west to the Machado Place-Vineyard Avenue intersection at the east.
City officials looked to move forward with two phases, from Vineyard Terrace to Machado Place, earlier this year but faced a lone construction bid well over budget and an inability to get consensus among residents about whether to create the new trail as planned, according to engineering director Stephen Kirkpatrick.
So city staff turned to the council for guidance Tuesday night.
The nearly hour-and-a-half discussion in the council chambers saw nine resident speakers on various sides of the debate.
Several residents asked the council to build the trail as called for in the specific plan, a proposal disclosed to them when the bought their property in the neighborhood.
Others raised safety concerns about the new trail and associated changes. Critics also asked the council to reconsider aspects of the project such as removing a planned trail-road intersection at Rolling Hills Lane and amending the plan to close part of Machado Place — between Heinz Ranch Court/Mingoia Street and Foley Road — for trail access only.
City Manager Nelson Fialho advised the council that implementing changes to the design concepts could necessitate amendments to the specific plan, which would be subject to a new public vetting process that could last more than a year.
Council members opted to move forward only with construction of the original first phase of the trail, from Vineyard Terrace to Heinz Ranch Court/Mingoia Street.
They then directed city staff to create new alternatives for the Machado Place portion of the trail and present those options to the Planning Commission when ready. The commission would make a recommendation to the council for future approval.
The final phase of the project, the western edge connecting to Shadow Cliffs, would follow up to several years later when funding is available, Fialho said.
To proceed with the first phase, the council told staff to go back out to bid in the months ahead. That decision came after the council voted Tuesday to reject the only bid submitted when the city put out a call to contractors earlier this year.
Construction firm GradeTech, Inc., proposed $865,530 for the first phase of the project, far exceeding the engineer's estimate of $530,000 and total project budget of $650,000, according to Kirkpatrick. He also said other contractors indicated the city might get more suitors if the project were re-bid later this year.
All council votes on the Old Vineyard Avenue trail Tuesday night were 4-0, with Vice Mayor Jerry Pentin absent.