On Saturday, Feb. 29, hundreds of people came out to celebrate the opening of a new segment of the Cross Alameda Trail (CAT), a developing 4-mile rail-trail across the island city of Alameda just south of Oakland in California’s Bay Area.
The newly minted 0.9-mile section of trail—which stretches east from Main Street to Constitution Way along Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway and Atlantic Avenue—is a vital new walking and biking connection for Alameda and the region. This nearly mile-long trail segment connects to an existing 0.6-mile segment of the CAT to form 1.5 miles of continuous rail-trail between Alameda Point and the new 25-acre Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.
At the opening, the community’s excitement was on full display, with an impassioned speech from Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, an eccentric group of trail enthusiasts showing off their homemade pedal-powered machines, and an enthusiastic inaugural trail walk and ride led by the Encinal High School marching band.
#TeamRTC is thrilled to be celebrating the grand opening of California’s Cross Alameda Trail—which closes an important gap in the Bay Area Trails Collaborative’s 2,700-mile regional trail network! #TrailNation— Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails) February 29, 2020
Tune in for the inaugural walk led by @AlamedaHigh and @EHSJets! pic.twitter.com/yoc6ngAjai
“This is what trails are all about,” said Laura Cohen, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC’s) western director. “Neighbors coming together to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate their community.”
Improved Mobility and Access for Alameda—and the Bay Area
In addition to providing the community with a beautiful new gathering space, the recently opened trail segment expands mobility options for city residents and visitors interested in getting around by active modes of transportation.
"This latest segment of the Cross Alameda Trail is already being warmly embraced by the community as a major nonmotorized commuting corridor,” said Rochelle Wheeler, senior transportation coordinator for the City of Alameda. “Many are using it to get to adjacent schools and to access public transportation, including the ferry terminal and AC Transit buses.”
When complete, the CAT route will extend 4 miles from one side of Alameda to the other, creating new trail access to residential areas, open spaces, shopping destinations and transportation connections, including the Fruitvale BART Station, Alameda’s existing Main Street Ferry Terminal and the under-construction Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal.
The CAT will ultimately link up with a more comprehensive citywide trail network featuring several north–south routes as well as a route circling most of the island. This proposed circumferential route is part of the San Francisco Bay Trail (SF Bay Trail)—a developing 500-mile walking and bicycling trail that will eventually wrap around the entire Bay, passing through 47 cities and connecting nine counties along the way.
Alameda’s future trail network is also part of the regional trail vision of the Bay Area Trails Collaborative (BATC). An RTC TrailNation™ project, BATC is a coalition of over 50 organizations, agencies and businesses advocating for a regional trail network that will connect every major Bay Area population center through 2,700 miles of safe and connected trails, creating sustainable transportation options, improving health and wellness and linking diverse communities throughout the region.
Developing the CAT
In 2001, the volunteer-based parks and trails advocacy organization Alameda Open Space partnered with RTC to conceptualize a trail along the disused Alameda Belt Line Railroad. RTC worked with the City of Alameda to secure a grant to study the feasibility of the proposed trail along the right-of-way. The resulting Vision Framework helped lay the groundwork for the project, and in March 2010, the city acquired the first 1.2 miles of disused rail corridor to develop the trail.
Today, three out of nine total segments of the CAT are complete, with more sections in development, and completion of the entire 4-mile trail anticipated by 2022. The $7.1 million project is primarily funded through Alameda County’s transportation sales tax (Measures B and BB), with additional funding from the Citywide Developer Fee, the City's Construction Improvement Tax, the County Vehicle Registration Fee, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the California Transportation Development Act, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Federal Transit Administration, the Coca-Cola Foundation and RTC.
In 2018, supported by a grant from RTC, the City of Alameda purchased an “Eco-Counter”—an electronic device that automatically counts the number of trail users passing by. Installed and activated before the opening celebration, the device will provide the city with invaluable information on trail usage along the CAT for years to come.