Petaluma is in line for funding to complete the final link of a bike path, which, when constructed this year, will allow cyclists and walkers to traverse the city from the eastern edge at the foot of Sonoma Mountain to the historic downtown.
The last piece of the Petaluma River trail, a .2-mile stretch along North Water Street, will connect the Copeland footbridge, the trail’s current terminus, with East Washington Street. The Petaluma City Council on Monday approved the funding agreement with the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.
“We’re very happy,” said Councilwoman Kathy Miller, an SCTA board member. “It’s lovely to keep people on trails as much as possible. It’s safer that way. I think this is a good thing for the city.”
The $2 million in funding — $1.63 million for a previous phase that included the footbridge, and $360,000 for the last phase of the project — is from Measure M, the county transportation sales tax. The project will include a new retaining wall along the river, a handrail, an asphalt pathway and striping, according to project documents.
The final phase is the culmination of the Petaluma River Access Plan, which the city council approved in 2000. The first phase extended the crosstown Lynch Creek Trail from Payran Street to near Lakeville Street in 2005. The next phase in 2014 extended the path across the river to Water Street.
The bike path is part of a larger revamp of North Water Street, which will also see improvements to the road and a connection to Oak Street as part of the North River Apartment project. The Petaluma Planning Commission signed off on the project on Tuesday.
In a letter to the planning commission, Bjorn Griepenburg, chair of Petaluma’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, supported including the bike path in the apartment project.
Petaluma’s plans “support the implementation of a Class I multi-use pathway along the Petaluma River — including the stretch of Water Street North between the Copeland Crossing and East Washington Street — with a goal of improving bicycle and pedestrian connectivity and safety, and enhancing Petalumans’ ability to access and enjoy our river,” he wrote.
According to the funding agreement, construction of the final phase of trail will begin in September and wrap up by the end of the year.
Joe Morgan, who is part of the Petaluma Wheelmen Cycling Club and also serves on the Sonoma County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, said the project is a small step in the right direction, but Petaluma needs to do much more to be considered bike friendly.
“Anytime you can get people out of cars and onto bikes is fantastic,” he said. “We’re way short of where we need to be. Other communities have done much better.”
(Contact Matt Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.)