Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Three area trails to get a little longer

Even though the Measure C website welcomes you with a large graphic promising miles of new trails,  you'll find that the Fresno-area trail system has grown remarkably little over the past decade (I'll be soon posting an interesting map from the 70's to compare).

For 2013, there's nothing major in the work, but three small projects have recently made their way through the Fresno and Clovis councils which should make trail use slightly better. These three projects don't have exact build dates, but I would expect the first two to be useable by summer and the third by the end of the year. I will discuss them in the order they appeared before the councils.


The first project is in Clovis, along the Dry Creek trail. That is the trail which breaks away from the main regional trail near Herndon and Villa. I haven't written much about the Dry Creek trail, although I did talk about how it interacts with the main rail-trail in one of my reviews.

The project is supposed to make improvements near where the trail approaches the fantastic Dry Creek Park (home of the Clovis botanical gardens) which sits at the intersection of Alluvial and Clovis. Before reaching the intersection, the trail crosses what is apparently known as "Cottonwood Park".

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Sadly, the council documents (PDF) had strikingly little to say about the project aside from the cost, and that it will involve construction of 670 feet of 12-foot wide trail.

My guess is that the project will fix a flaw in the trail system. The flaw is that the trail doesn't connect properly to the intersection and the continuation of the trail.

As you can see, there is a gap in the trail system.

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Trail users must use the sidewalk, which isn't terrible, but there's absolutely no signage to indicate which way the trail users are supposed to go. It's also obviously much less pleasant than the trail itself, since you're right next to speeding traffic.

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I would wager that the improvement involves making the trail have a more natural connection. Sadly, there's nothing in the bid to add lighting (Dry Creek Trail is not lit, even though Sugarpine is), and there's nothing to improve the intersection by adding a diagonal crossing that trail users could activate (in blue). That means users will have to continue to wait two cycles, and cross a much longer section of road.

 If I am right, expect the dotted red line, although it's possible the trail might simply be built alongside the existing sidewalk.

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Personally, I'd much rather the funds went to add lighting or improve the crossing, or build the missing link in Old Town, as this trail problem wasn't that big of a deal. It'll be a nice improvement (if I'm right) - it just doesn't seem like it should have been a priority. 

I visited the location two weeks ago and there were no signs of construction yet. If any of you see construction begin, let me know. If not, I'll update it when it's done.



The second project is also in Clovis, on a different trail which you may have never even heard of - the Enterprise Trail. That project has even less information available (PDF), simply that it is 1,270 feet of a 10-foot wide trail.

The area that the documents talk about, Shepherd and Fowler is home to a real missing link, where the Dry Creek Trail (on the left) and the Enterprise trail (on the right) are supposed to connect, but don't.

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Currently, the paved path dead-ends at a home, although you can continue on the elevated dirt path along the canal. On a bike, that can be a challenge, and you're not supposed to.

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The length of the project coincides with the length of the missing segment. However, the price seems low for that construction. I'm not in that area frequently, but I'll check it out in a few months to see if the trails were indeed connected. That area is also supposed to be home to a parking area for the trails, but that is not included in this project, and honestly is something that's not needed.

That reminds me, a month or two ago there was an item about funds for a trail in the vicinity of Alluvial and Temperance. That would be a brand new trail heading north-east along 168, but the item was for initial planning funds, not construction.



The final project is in Fresno, on the far north side of town....all the way north, on Friant and Copper. That part of town has the pleasant Lewis Eaton trail which runs between Friant Avenue and the river. Copper is in the future supposed to have a trail connecting the Eaton trail to the existing trail along Willow. While I started this post noting that there has been very little trail construction over the past decade, it is fair to note that the massive Willow Ave widening project did include construction of a trail along the west side, connecting Shepherd Ave with Clovis North High School. 

Anyway, this project (PDF) will be the construction of the "Northpointe Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail" which is supposed to give residents of Woodward Lakes better access to the existing trail system. This project will be 1,100 feet long and 12 feet wide (with the trail area being 30 feet wide).

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In the works since 2004 (seriously) this project will take what was originally Millbrook Avenue. Google is really excited about this one....they already have it mapped out as being usable. It's not. I guess they figured 8 years was enough waiting?

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The red dotted path is this project. The blue dots are a future planned trail.Green of course is what exists. That small parking lot is for trail users, because street parking is such a hassle.


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Foolishly, the neighboring road system was built so that residents won't be able to access the trail. Woops.

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I can't see anyone outside of the immediate residents of Woodward Lakes using this trail, but it's always nice to have better connections. Perhaps it will lead more people to discover the river trail?


There's one final project you'll be hearing about a lot over the next few months - I expect the Bee front page. The city will be spending over $1m on a tunnel under Shepherd ave, where a young boy was killed this past year. That project has been in the works for a decade, and I actually oppose it. When my review of the Sugarpine trail eventually reaches that section, I'll elaborate on why I don't love spending so much on a tunnel.

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