Will close gap caused by Hwy 4, complete Contra Costa section by early 2023
“This is one of my dreams that really did come true.” – former Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor
By Allen D. Payton
Officials from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), State Route 4 Bypass Authority and the City of Brentwood celebrated the beginning of construction on the Mokelumne Trail Bike and Pedestrian Overcrossing Friday morning, March 18 with a ceremonial groundbreaking. The multi-span bridge will connect two sides of the Mokelumne Trail, providing safe access to cyclists and pedestrians across Highway 4 for recreational travel and commuting. When completed, the overcrossing will provide access to the future Brentwood Transit Center and BART Station and help connect six counties across California as part of the larger Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail from the East Bay to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Mokelumne Trail in Contra Costa County runs from the Martinez Regional Shoreline to the north, Oakland to the west, and Antioch to the east, passing through Brentwood.
Also in attendance at the groundbreaking were local bicycle advocates including Bruce Ohlson from Bay Point, who rode his bike to the event.
It’s been the plan since the right-of-way for the Highway 4 Bypass/extension between Lone Tree Way and Balfour Road was purchased in 1998 to provide a connection to both sides of the trail and close the gap with an overcrossing.
“The highway splits the trail that was not in place but merely planned at the time the first phase of the Bypass was built in 2002,” said Dale Dennis, Program Manager for the State Route 4 Bypass Authority. “With the understanding that the regional trail would connect. and we would have to provide that connection in the future.”
“The Bypass Authority did the right of way acquisition for the trail,” he added.
Construction on the $8.6 million project is expected to be completed by early 2023 if not sooner. Funding has been provided through the county’s Measure J half-cent sales tax dollars, the Bypass Authority, and regional bridge toll funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).
The project will have one of the shortest construction timelines in CCTA’s history. The 850-foot bridge structure includes a wider trail width of sixteen feet to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians using the trail or accessing potential future transit and meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards to support use by all community members.
“Total construction costs are $8.6 million with total project costs of $13 million,” said Timothy Haile, CCTA Executive Director. “It’s turned into a focal point for the community….for transit in Eastern Contra Costa County…for the transit center…and for Brentwood’s Innovation Center” for commercial development and employment.
Supervisor Federal Glover spoke representing the MTC saying, “This is going to be major for some visionary individuals as we connect to other areas. It’s been a very collaborative effort and very well thought out through the years. But it doesn’t happen until someone brings the money together.”
He acknowledged and thanked former Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor, “who was banging on the door of (former CCTA Executive Director) Randy Iwasaki and Tim Haile asking, ‘how…are we going to get the money to get this done?’”
Glover then thanked the partners and all those who helped
“I started working with the City of Brentwood in 2017” Haile said, then thanked the city staff “and the city council that has been very supportive.”
Brentwood Mayor Joel Bryant said, “the overcrossing is part of a greater vision…part of a larger Mokelumne to Crest Trail. This is very exciting. We have a lot of residents who are pedestrians and bicyclists.”
“We provide everything the future is going to need as far as economic development and living as the Bay Area moves our way,” he added.
Bryant acknowledged his predecessor, Mayor Taylor and said, “this is his project that he handed to us”.
“I made a promise 16 years ago that I would do this,” Taylor then said. “I was very naive. After 10 years, I said ‘we’re going to do this’. After 12 years, ‘we’re going to do this’. Well, we’re going to do this.”
“This is not just a Brentwood thing. It couldn’t have been done without a whole lot of people,” he continued. “This is one of my dreams that really did come true.”
“When I came to CCTA the first thing that happened was Bob came into my office and asked how we were going to get the Mokelumne Trail Overcrossing?” Tim Haile added to the credit given to Taylor for the project.
“This new bicycle and pedestrian overcrossing will improve the community’s connections to nature, jobs, housing, and transit opportunities – and serves as an example of what can be accomplished through collaboration,” said Contra Costa Transportation Authority Board Chair Chris Kelley. “But just as important, this bridge is designed with the future in mind and could accommodate potential future autonomous shuttles as well as bicycles and pedestrians to help local residents get where they need to go.”
Options for Brentwood’s East County Intermodal Transit Center are currently being evaluated as part of the East County Integrated Transit Study. The overcrossing also provides a connection to the planned Innovation Center at Brentwood, a 200+ acre parcel that city officials have zoned for employer and development partners to create a workplace community.
According not the trail map website, “For 28 years, dozens of citizens and government agencies have been working to complete the 300+ mile-long Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail. First envisioned by ‘Father of CA Trails’ and ‘Grandfather of National Trails’ George H. Cardinet, Jr., the Trail Council is proud to share three open sections for day hikes and more.”