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Richmond Delegation Heads to Santa Barbara Today to Ask SLC for Bay Trail Contribution from Chevron

Richmond commits to funding for Bay Trail at refinery

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Posted: 01/28/2009 04:53:46 PM PST

Updated: 01/28/2009 04:53:46 PM PST


Richmond city officials are promising as much as $2 million for a public walking and bicycling trail at the Chevron Richmond refinery as state officials regroup today to try to hammer out a deal for the path.

The Richmond City Council will draw from the recently voter-approved Measure WW to supply $1.5 million to $2 million to help close a 0.6-mile gap in the San Francisco Bay Trail between Point Molate and the San Pablo Peninsula. That money is contingent on other agencies chipping in millions in cash, too.

"It's very important for us to demonstrate as a city we're ready to put our money where our mouth is," Councilman Jeff Ritterman said at Tuesday's council meeting.

Measure WW is the East Bay Regional Park District's $500 million park bond extension that voters approved in November. Seventy-five percent of the money will finance specific regional projects; the rest is divvied up among cities based on population.

Richmond's share is $4.7 million, enough for the trail plus the second phase of the Richmond Plunge renovation with about $2 million leftover for other needs, City Manager Bill Lindsay said. He added that the city also will hunt for trail grants.

The council's decision comes as the State Lands Commission meets in Santa Barbara today to decide whether to renew Chevron's 30-year lease of state tidelands where the Chevron Long Wharf sits.

Bay Trail supporters want the state to require Chevron to give an easement and construction funds for a path as part of the lease. In December, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who sits on the three-member Lands Commission, tried to help cobble together a financial deal in which Chevron would supply land and partial funding. Caltrans would match what Chevron gives. The East Bay Regional Park District and the city of Richmond would chip in $3 million combined.

A 2001 study had examined five possible Bay Trail routes, including one along the south side of Interstate 580 on Chevron property that passes over several large pipes carrying oil to and from tankers at the Long Wharf. Chevron cited security reasons for opposing construction, saying that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks resulted in stiffer security requirements.

The public cry, already loud, grew louder in 2006 when a bicyclist riding on a Caltrans-created bike lane on I-580 east of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge tollbooth was struck by a car and killed. A fellow bicyclist was seriously injured.

"Access to Point Molate and the Greenway via the Bay Trail is currently impossible except by a very dangerous route on a freeway shoulder," Richmond resident Bill Pinkham, an East Bay Bicycle Coalition member, told the council this week. "On the way back is even more dangerous because people can make the mistake of staying on the Point Molate road and emerging in the middle of the freeway."

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.