Santa Rosa, CA – May 5, 2015 – Regional Parks will receive a $209,436 grant to study the feasibility of creating a 13-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail connecting Petaluma and Sebastopol. The award was announced April 24 by the Caltrans' Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant Program, which received 190 applications and chose 51 for funding, pending approval of the 2015-16 state budget.
"This is a highly competitive grant program, and our selection speaks to the county's vision for a more sustainable community," said Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart. "Improving transportation systems, reducing greenhouse gases, and ensuring safe routes are all priorities. A trail connection for Petaluma and Sebastopol could be a major step forward."
The concept of a Petaluma-Sebastopol Trail is a component of the Sonoma County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, a blueprint for alternative transportation infrastructure. The general route of the proposed trail is inspired by the former railroad that ran from Sebastopol along the Highway 116 corridor to northwest Petaluma. Much of the railroad right-of-way is now privately owned and developed for other purposes, so a feasibility study will determine the most workable trail route.
The proposed study area extends from southwest Sebastopol through the unincorporated areas of Hessel and Cunningham west of Highways 116 and 101 to northwest Petaluma. The study area also connects with the county's Joe Rodota Trail, which runs along the former railway route between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.
"Imagine being able to ride from downtown Santa Rosa to Petaluma on dedicated bike paths," said 5th District Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who represents portions of the study area. "The proposed trail would help create healthier communities, new recreational and visitor opportunities, and much-needed commute alternatives. We look forward to learning more through this study."
The estimated cost for the trail study is $248,000. A local match of $38,564 will augment the $209,436 grant, with the additional money coming from park mitigation fees, the cities of Sebastopol and Petaluma, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, and the Santa Rosa Cycling Club.
Caltrans' Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants are awarded to projects intended to improve mobility through sustainability and encourage public involvement. The trail study likely will begin this fall and will include multiple community meetings, surveys and workshops. A draft report will be prepared for public input before a final report is presented to the Board of Supervisors for consideration in 2017.