Freeway noisy over trail connection | March 1, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 1, 2013

Freeway noisy over trail connection

Pedestrians can't hear approaching bicycles

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The recently completed trail connection between Pleasanton and Dublin that passes under Interstate 580 is subject to noise from the overhead freeway that is causing concern.

"You can't hear the sound of bikes at all," Deborah Wahl, a member of the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Committee, said at a recent meeting. "It's not just when you're under the freeway but by the park. It's so loud. And bicycles either don't have bells or don't use them."

As a possible solution, traffic engineer Janis Stephen showed photos of markings on the Monterey Bay Regional Trail which clearly show that pedestrians should keep to the right and cyclists are expected to ride toward the center.

"The Park District does not stripe its trails," Jim Townsend, of the East Bay Regional Park District, told the committee. "It's a maintenance headache -- they wear out quickly."

Secondly, he noted that the markings are not legally binding so are not honored. And lastly, the Park District doesn't paint stripes on trails for aesthetic reasons.

"We want them to look like trails, not roads," Townsend said, adding, "I know there are lots of opinions on this."

Another suggestion was to put up a sign telling bicyclists to call out as they approach but Townsend said the Park District would be against such signage.

"It sounds terrible to say but typically these things work themselves out," he said.

Trails do have a 15 mph speed limit, he noted.

"It might be a good reminder to post the speed limit," pointed out Sgt. Robert Leong, who attends the meetings as a member of the Pleasanton Police Department.

The Contra Costa Canal Trail near Walnut Creek BART has a similar situation but has come up with no solution, Townsend said, adding that he is pleased the Pleasanton-Dublin trail connection is getting traffic.

"We get lots of compliments on it," he said.

"It sounds like a couple of signs could be well used," committee Chairman Kurt Kummer said.

"I'll look into that," Townsend replied.

He also said the underpass is being studied for how well its closure works during storms that cause flooding of the adjacent Alamo Canal.

"The fence is designed to drop down manually when we close the gates but we are going to rethink that," Townsend said. "It takes two people to take the fence down and we don't always have two people. And we've found that people read the sign (saying the trail is closed) and go around it."

Then they are walking in a foot of water and cannot see the horizontal fence, which is hidden by the water.

The 700-foot segment under I-580 to connect the Centennial Trail in Pleasanton and the Alamo Canal Trail in Dublin was completed in October, a joint project involving the cities of Pleasanton and Dublin, Alameda County Transportation Commission, Zone 7 Water Agency and Caltrans. East Bay Regional Park District operates and maintains it.

Money for the $2.4 million project includes $1 million from federal TIGER II (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) funds plus the Federal Transportation Improvement Plan, Alameda County's Measure B, the Park District's Measure WW and the cities.

"The contractor did a good job," Townsend said. "It was early and a bit under budget."