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Bay Trail Loop to be Previewed Saturday

Bay Trail loop to be previewed Saturday

By Chris Treadway
Staff writer

Article Launched: 10/16/2008 05:07:08 PM PDT


It has been 2 years since a 1.4-mile section of the Bay Trail opened south of the West County Landfill.

A companion section that will complete a loop of about 3 miles around the landfill site is still a year away from opening, but the public can experience what the completed trail will look like at a preview hike Saturday.

It's actually more like two walks in one, according to Larry Burch, landfill development manager for property owner Republic Services Inc. Burch will lead the walk along with Bruce and Sandra Beyaert of the Trails for Richmond Action Committee.

"Right now, you've got about a 1-mile section open, but it doesn't loop," he said. "You have to walk in and then come out the way you came in. When it's completed, it should be about a three-mile loop around the landfill."

The landfill is situated between Wildcat Creek to the south and San Pablo Creek to the north. The portion already open starts at Parr Boulevard and traverses marshlands south of the landfill that are visited by birds and waterfowl, deer, rabbits and even an occasional fox. "It's more natural than people realize until they get out there," Burch said.

The second phase, which should open in late 2009, "is a completely different setting," he said. "You can see Sonoma and Marin counties" and San Pablo Bay from a vantage point that goes much farther onto the water than the natural shoreline.

"This is an old bayfill site that would never be allowed now, but it protrudes out into the Bay, so you get a different view," Burch said.

More than 30 people have already signed up for the easy-to-moderate walk, "and we may have folks in motorized wheelchairs participate in previewing this accessible trail," said Bruce Beyaert of TRAC.

"This trail is really a landmark because it's the first real opening of Bay Trail on Richmond's north shoreline," he said. "The views looking out at San Pablo Bay, at Mount Tam and Point San Pablo are truly stunning."

Elevated stretches on top of the former dumpsite, which closed in September 2006, provide a different angle. "There are two levels," Burch said. "You walk up to about an elevation of 80 feet, and as you walk across it gives a nice perspective."

While dumping has ended at the landfill, Republic Services still operates a transfer station at the site where recyclable material is separated from garbage before material is trucked away. "So activity still goes on, but there's nothing being buried out there," Burch said.

The rest of the large site, which Burch said is about 1 mile long and -mile wide, is being capped to prevent the refuse below from seeping water and to keep any gases the heap generates from leaking.

The current economic downturn has slowed the capping process, which in turn has set back the timetable for officially opening the new section of trail. "This year we thought we'd have much more done, but a lot of the soil comes from construction projects," Burch said. "With not as many construction projects going on, there's no soil to put there to cap the landfill."

Reach Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com.

if you go
The free preview hike of the Bay Trail landfill loop is 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, and registration is required. To register, visit www.greenbelt.org/cgi-bin/calendar.cgi.
To learn more about the Trails for Richmond Action Committee and the local hikes and activities it offers, visit www.pointrichmond.com/baytrail/.