Greenway Trail East Extension Project
Information regarding the Greenway Trail East Expansion Project is available for review at City Hall or on the City website. The 20 day public review and comment period commenced on July 2, 2013 and expired on July 23, 2013.
Whittier Greenway Trail Eastern Extension Purchased
The Whittier City Council approved $2.4 million to purchase 2.3 miles of perpetual railroad easement to extend the Whittier Greenway Trail along Lambert Road from Mills Avenue to First Avenue, which will extend the Trail nearly to the eastern boundary of the City. Also approved was an optional purchase price of just over $1 million for the remaining half-mile within City limits, from First Avenue to the City of La Habra border.
This acquisition is the culmination of many years of negotiating to extend the Trail. Connecting the Greenway Trail to La Habra and Brea will eventually provide a safe path to bike or hike all the way to the Santa Ana River Trail.
The existing 4.5-mile Whittier Greenway Trail opened in 2009 following the City’s 2001 purchase of an abandoned Union Pacific right-of-way, and was constructed using grant funds from federal, state and county sources, primarily administered through Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and CalTrans.
As plans begin for the development of the Trail’s extension, neighbors, schools and other community members will be invited to provide input on design details. The National Park Service has selected the eastern extension as one of its 2014 planning projects and its Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program will assist the City with initial outreach efforts.
The City will also apply for government grants to fund development of the extension, rather than spending unrestricted General Funds on the project. The initial 4.5-mile Greenway Trail was funded entirely by grants and the City Council wishes to continue this practice for the eastern extension.
The Greenway Trail eastern extension will continue the benefits of the Trail by providing scenic open space, alleviating traffic congestion and improving air quality. The Trail extension will connect with regional bus systems serving Whittier, including Foothill Transit, Metro, Montebello Bus Lines, Norwalk Transit and the Sunshine Shuttle.
When completed, the extended Trail will be a pleasant, safe and convenient way for walkers, joggers and bicyclists to travel around town.
The following are questions you may have about the Greenway Trail eastern extension project:
I thought we already had a Greenway Trail?
We do! The Whittier Greenway Trail is a 4.5-mile bicycle/pedestrian trail that replaced an abandoned railroad right-of-way between Pioneer Boulevard and Mills Avenue. The multi-use Trail is accessible to walkers, joggers, bicyclists, wheelchair users (motorized and non-motorized) and other non-motorized wheeled transport. The Trail has a 12-foot wide asphalt bicycle path, a separate pedestrian path, landscaping, interpretive exhibits, exercise stations and several bridges, most notably at Five Points. The City purchased the abandoned railroad corridor from Union Pacific Railroad Company in December 2001, using state and federal transportation funds. The official opening of the Trail was held in January 2009.
What is the Whittier Greenway Trail East Extension?
There is an active rail line traveling east for 2.8 miles from Mills Avenue to the eastern City of Whittier limits. Whittier is buying a perpetual easement along this line to take the trail to the City limits and link the Greenway Trail into Orange County trails.
How long will it take to build?
The City Council approved the easement purchase on April 23, 2013 and the purchase closed on June 27, 2013. We don’t yet have funds to construct the Trail but we are applying for state and federal grant monies to develop it. Once it’s funded and designed, actual construction of the Greenway Trail Eastern Extension might take a year or so. Please keep in mind that since we’ll be waiting to receive outside grant funding rather than using City General Funds, it can be a slow process — we bought the original corridor in 2001 and didn’t open the developed Greenway Trail until 2009!
What’s it costing us?
After years of negotiations, the City is paying $2.4 million for the 2.3-mile easement from Mills Avenue to First Avenue. The purchase agreement also sets an optional purchase price for the remaining half mile from First Avenue to the eastern City limits at a little over $1 million, with the price increasing every year between 2014 and 2018.
How are we paying for this in such tight budget times?
Most of the money for the purchase (almost $1.8 million) has come from a federal Transportation Efficiency Act grant. The remainder of the funding (about $600,000) is coming from Los Angeles County transit funds. So, you can see we are not using any of our local General Fund dollars for this project. We’re applying for other government grants to pay for eastern development of the Trail, which is how we funded the original 4.5 miles of the Trail. Grant funds are awarded through a competitive process, so funds we don’t apply for and receive are awarded for similar projects in other communities. The grant funds we receive can only be spent on this project and cannot be legally used for any other purpose.
How can I be involved?
Community participation was a very important part of the original Greenway Trail development, and we plan to seek public input to plan the eastern extension as well. The City will hold community and neighborhood meetings to acquaint residents with the project and receive their input. We’ll notify households that are adjacent to the easement area about public meetings by mail to make sure they have an opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions. We’ll invite key stakeholders to discuss the extension development — residents who represent neighborhoods along the Trail extension, the local bicycle club, the Park, Recreation and Community Services Commission, the Accessibility Committee, nearby schools, and the business community. The National Park Service has already awarded us a small grant to assist with Trail planning and community outreach.
We live next to the railroad tracks and have been entering our back yard that way. If you build the trail extension, will it block my access?
We haven’t figured out that answer yet, so this will be a good topic for discussion during the planning phase. We’d have to consider your property layout individually, although it’s hard to foresee any way to allow you to pull in a boat or RV off the Trail extension once it’s developed. One immediate problem we foresee is the turning radius — the railroad will only sell us 15 feet of width and they are requiring we install a high fence between the Trail and their track.
Where can I get more information?
If you’d like more information on the Whittier Greenway Trail, please call Fran Shields, Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, at 562-567-9400.
Please click here for Whittier Daily News press article.