City committed to continuing Bay Trail at Alameda Point

Photo by Jeff Cambra. The San Francisco Bay Trail comes to an abrupt end near the USS Hornet at Alameda Point. As the Point develops, the city plans to extend the trail.

Extending the Bay Trail around Alameda Point has long been one of Bike Walk Alameda’s long-term visions. When the Alameda Naval Air Station closed in 1997, proponents of the Bay Trail project recognized the opportunity to complete a major section of the San Francisco Bay perimeter trail. But with great opportunities came great challenges. 

In order to construct a section of the trail, a city must first acquire the rights to use the property for the trail. If the property is privately owned, a city must wait until the property owner wants to develop the property then ask for a “dedication for use” in order to secure access, or a city would have to pay fair market value and purchase the property from the owner. If the property is owned by a local government agency, then it would voluntarily provide the necessary access to its property. In Alameda, the Navy owned the property, and there was little interest from the Navy to allow any work on the Bay Trail knowing that the property would be sold.

When the Navy gave the City of Alameda a large portion of the base, the City gained access to property that could now be designated as land for the Bay Trail project. The City is very supportive of extending the Bay Trail in all areas that it has control over. Planning documents show that the trail will extend from the area near the USS Hornet along a scenic waterfront route in many sections to the Main Street ferry terminal.

But access is only the first step. Trail construction is not free and funding needs to be secured in order to build each section. Local government funding and grants are the prime sources of funds. The availability of funds from these two sources is affected by the general economy, and for many years, there simply was no funding available to secure property or build trails. Today, the City continually applies for grants to provide funding needed to pay for construction of small sections of the trail. However, the most viable model for funding the completion of the Bay Trail is through dedication and development at Alameda Point.

With the economy improving and the possibility of development at Alameda Point, the likelihood that access and funding will come together is good and with some luck, the Bay Trail along many sections of Alameda Point will finally become a reality. Perhaps the cover of the 2015 BTWD guide will have a picture of the final link in the connection.