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Springs bike trail may be reality by next year

This is the route of the Central Sonoma Valley Trail.

This is the route of the Central Sonoma Valley Trail.

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The long-awaited Central Sonoma Valley Trail could be a reality sometime in 2015.

The trail, which starts by Maxwell Farms Regional Park and winds its way to Agua Caliente Road through a mixture of streets and dedicated bike paths, has been on the drawing board since a number of meetings back in 2001.

Ken Tam, a planner with Regional Parks, said one of four dedicated bike paths is finished, and he wants to get the other three segments finished in 2015. “The clock is ticking,” he said. “We need to get these segments done.”

The segment that was finished in 2011, the De Chene Avenue-Larson Park segment, cost $163,500. The segments that have yet to be built, through Flowery Elementary School and Verano Avenue, will cost $625,000, while the last segment, through the Springs mixed-use affordable housing project, will run about $210,000. But that last expense is being picked up by the affordable-housing project developers.

Tam said the bike path, a 2.76-mile trail, will be a combination of Class I, Class II and Class III segments. Class I is a dedicated path for pedestrians and bicyclists, while Class II and Class III are on-street bike lanes with striping .

“The majority of the bike path is going to be Class II and Class III,” Tam said. Of the 2.76 miles, only .73 will be a Class I bike path.

The Verano Avenue segment, which will run .31 miles, starts at Main Street and continues west on the north side of Verano Avenue to Sonoma Creek. Along this route, there are no sidewalks on either side of the road, but there is a crosswalk connecting to Maxwell Farms Regional Park. The proposed improvements include a paved path separated from traffic on Verano Avenue.

The .11 mile Flowery School segment starts at Larson Park and extends north through Flowery Elementary School to Depot Road. Proposed improvements include a paved path and pedestrian/bicycle bridge crossing Pequeno Creek. The county is negotiating with the Sonoma Valley Unified School District for a trail easement to construct improvements on school property.

The last segment, through the Vailetti property, is .31 miles and starts at Vailetti Drive, continues south through the Sonoma Charter School and Vailetti properties and ends at Depot Road. The Vailetti family and MidPen Housing have submitted a joint mixed-use development application to the county for review and approval.

The rest of the bike path runs along Main Street to Academy to Melody Lane to Orchard to Greger to Lichtenberg to De Chene, and once it exits the Sonoma Charter School, along Cedar Avenue or Vailetti Drive.

Tam said the engineering and design for the Flowery School and Verano Avenue segments will start this year.

Funding is coming from a variety of sources, including state Proposition 40, Transportation Development Act Article 3, Sonoma County’s Measure M, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Lifeline Transportation program and county park mitigation fees.

The Central Sonoma Valley Trail could eventually connect with the Sonoma Valley Bike Trail – if it gets built – and run all the way to Melita Road in Santa Rosa.

But while the 13-mile Sonoma Valley Bike trail is still just a concept, Regional Parks received a $190,575 grant from Caltrans to study the feasibility of the project.

Tam said the study hasn’t been started yet. “We’re still waiting for an executed contract from Caltrans,” he said.

A trail spanning the Sonoma Valley is listed as a high priority in the 2010 Sonoma County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and as a proposed route in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Regional Bikeway System.