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Richmond Greenway Breaks New Ground
Posted on Fri, May. 26, 2006
Richmond breaks ground on pedestrian path
Trail will run through the heart of Richmond to San Pablo Avenue, where it will hook up with the Ohlone Greenway
By John Geluardi

With several speeches and a few flips of the shovel, the first phase of the Richmond Greenway broke ground Thursday.

Elected officials, community members and a group of Lincoln Elementary School students celebrated the beginning of work on the pedestrian and bicycle path that will run from Garrard Boulevard through the heart of Richmond to San Pablo Avenue, where it will hook up with the Ohlone Greenway. The project is being funded through local and federal grants.

The first phase, or west section of the Greenway, will be built on the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad line. It runs about 31 blocks from Garrard Boulevard to 23rd Street and is expected to cost about $3 million.

The second phase, which is expected to break ground within 12 months, will continue from 23rd Street to where it connects with the Ohlone Greenway at Key Boulevard. That section is estimated to cost $1.5 million.

Once completed, the landscaped and paved Greenway will run near or through eight Richmond neighborhoods, including the Iron Triangle, Coronado and Park Plaza.

Thursday's celebration was attended by Mayor Irma Anderson and council members Tom Butt and Gayle Mclaughlin. U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia sent representatives to the event.

"Richmond has been through some tough challenges," Anderson said, referring to the city's 2004 budget crisis, "as the Greenway has been through tough challenges, and both have made it through. This is very exciting."

The groundbreaking was a long time coming. The project, which has been in the works for 25 years, frequently was bogged down in bureaucratic setbacks, snags and snafus. Several times, the project was almost canceled because of complications with grant funding.

Laura Cohen, director of the western office of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, which helped coordinate the project, said the Greenway will be worth all the administrative wrangling.

"There's a saying that good things come to those who wait," she said. "This shows that great things come to those who wait a really long time."

Several speakers thanked Iron Triangle activist Lillie Mae Jones, who did not attend the event, and her organization, Community Youth Council for Leadership and Education, for putting the project in motion.

Lincoln Elementary School is adjacent to the Greenway, and about 15 students who had created concept paintings for the pathway's design attended the ceremony. Student Valeria Venzuela, who was one of three students to receive prizes for their work, addressed the gathering of 50 people in Spanish.

"I wanted to see a place for plants and games that everybody can enjoy," she said.

Contact John Geluardi at 510-262-2787 or at jgeluardi@cctimes.com