Published January 15, 2013
Volume 21, Number 1

New Iron Horse Trail Segment in Hacienda to Create Recreation and Transportation Corridor

Courtesy of East Bay Regional Park District.

Residents of Contra Costa and Alameda counties may think of the Iron Horse Trail (IHT) in a combined historical-recreational context. Currently the trail stretches from Concord to Dublin along the former right-of-way of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which was so instrumental in the area’s economic development when it started running in 1891. After 80 years of operation, declining traffic caused the company to abandon the line, and in 1976 the East Bay Regional Park District produced a master plan identifying the corridor as the perfect setting for a regional trail to connect 12 municipalities along the way.

Today the IHT consists of roughly 30 miles of non-motorized, multi-use pavement that meanders through green belts and affords hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians a tranquil refuge from the hustle and bustle of busy roadways.

In addition to enhancing recreational opportunities, the trail’s strategic location has a functional dimension, in many areas providing commuters and shoppers with convenient links to public transportation so they can reach their destinations in a “greener” fashion.

The multi-purpose trail is about to be extended as the Park District prepares for construction of a 1.3-mile segment that will take the it from its current termination at the Dublin BART station south through Hacienda to Santa Rita Road. At that point the IHT will connect with a segment to the south that was built a few years ago.

Funding for the upcoming project is coming from a TIGER (Transportation Initiative Generating Economic Recovery) grant awarded by the federal Department of Transportation “to help close significant gaps in seven trail projects around the East Bay,” explains Suzanne Wilson, Park District Trails Coordinator. “Each of these projects has been identified as a green transportation corridor, and provides links to existing transportation infrastructure. It is estimated that each project will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 11 million pounds annually by encouraging commuters to travel via bicycle or foot.”

Plans for the Hacienda component are the result of about 18 months of discussion and preparation among the Park District, the City, and other stakeholders. The local extension is seen as an important link connecting the thousands of people who live and work in the park to BART, Wilson says, noting, “There has been great collaborative effort to make this happen.” With an emphasis on making the trail secure, in some cases its path had to be shifted because the existing right-of-way was not satisfactory.

Construction is slated to begin this spring. The starting point, still to be determined, depends on several factors. The project is expected to take at least six months. Wilson reports that a later phase calls for the IHT to continue southeast to Stanley Boulevard, ultimately ending in Livermore, but that segment has no date or funding source identified yet.

For more information about the Iron Horse Trail, visit www.ebparks.org.  

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