Greenway Trail East Extension Project
Whittier Greenway Trail Eastern Extension
The City of Whittier has acquired 2.8 miles of perpetual railroad easement to extend the Whittier Greenway Trail along Lambert Road from Mills Avenue to the eastern boundary of the City, where the Whittier trail will connect with future trails through La Habra and Brea.
This acquisition is the culmination of many years of negotiating to extend the Greenway. 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 grants from federal, state and county sources, primarily administered through Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and CalTrans.
As planning began for the development of the Trail’s extension, neighbors, schools and other community members were invited to provide input on design details. The Whittier City Council appointed a Greenway Trail East Task Force to advise the City on design, development and use of the East extension to the Greenway Trail. The Task Force includes individuals representing interested residents and businesses, primarily those living or working near the Greenway Trail East project area. Also, the National Park Service selected the eastern extension as one of its planning projects and its Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program has assisted the City with outreach efforts and planning.
The City was fortunate to receive government grants to fund development of the extension, rather than spending unrestricted City 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, 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 Greenway 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 Greenway 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?
Oak Station, a parking lot and rest area at Mills Avenue and Lambert Road, is already constructed and open for use. Design of the trail extension is underway now and should be completed by the end of 2018. Actual construction of the extension might take 12 to 18 months, beginning in early 2019.
What’s it costing us?
After years of negotiations, the City paid about $3.5 million for the 2.8-mile easement from Mills Avenue to the east city limit line. The planning, design, and construction drawings are expected to cost about $1,100,000 and actual construction could be around $5.8 million. Also, the State Public Utilities Commission will require new railroad/pedestrian/street crossings at the seven streets that the trail extension crosses (Mills Avenue to 1st Avenue). The crossings and street work could cost as much as $4.5 million.
How are we paying for this in such tight budget times?
Most of the money for the purchase came from a federal grant; the remainder of the funding came from Los Angeles County transit funds. The City Council is not using any of our local General Fund dollars that could be spent on police, parks, or libraries for this project. We received other government grants to pay for construction, which is the same way we funded the original 4.5 miles of the Greenway. These grants are awarded through a competitive process, so funds we don’t apply for and receive are awarded for similar projects in other communities. The grants we receive can only be spent on this project and cannot be legally used for police, parks, or other general purposes.
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?
This was a major topic for discussion during the planning phase. We concluded there is no way to allow access to the properties north of the railroad once the trail is developed (beginning in early 2019). The railroad would only sell us 15 feet of width and its use is restricted to bicycle and pedestrian access (except for maintenance vehicles). Also, for liability and safety reasons, they are requiring we install a high fence with no gates between the trail and their active track.
Where can I get more information?
If you’d like more information on the Whittier Greenway Trail, please call Greg Alaniz, Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, at 562-567-9400.