Work gets underway on next section of Bodega Bay Trail
Construction is about to begin on the next step of a coastal trail designed eventually to run through the community of Bodega Bay, linking commercial, residential and recreational areas spread along narrow Highway 1 from one end of town to the other.
When opened at the end of this year, the newest .55-mile stretch will mark completion of about 1.1 miles of pathway — about a third of the overall, 3.5-mile Bodega Bay Bike & Pedestrian Trail eventually planned to run from Doran Beach north to Salmon Creek Beach and beyond.
The existing trail curves slightly through low-growing bushes and conifer trees that largely block Highway 1 from view, treating pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians to a scenic alternative to the road.
“It gets people off Highway 1, too, so it’s safer,” State Park Ranger Greg Propst said.
The new segment will run from Bodega Dunes Road — the entrance to the state park campground of the same name — to Keefe Avenue in the community of Salmon Creek, just inland from south Salmon Creek Beach and north of the central business district.
The new construction will start across Bodega Dunes Road from the end of a roughly half-mile section of trail completed last year, connecting the Bodega Bay Community Center with the Dunes campground.
Last year’s project also included improved trail access to the Children’s Bell Tower memorial to Nicholas Green, located directly behind the community center and community garden. Green, a 7-year-old Bodega Bay boy, was shot and killed in 1994 by street bandits while vacationing in Italy with his family. His donated organs saved the lives of five other people, spurring organ donations throughout Italy.
The new construction is made possible in large part through a $360,000 federal grant announced by North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman last month. About $260,000 is coming from Measure M county transportation revenue, and an additional $100,000 has been earmarked through state funds meant for alternative transportation, said Mark Cleveland, a senior Regional Parks planner. The total cost could reach $780,000, he said.
The latest leg of the construction includes an 8-foot-wide trail and a sturdy, prefabricated 120-foot bridge to span a seasonal creek just north of Bodega Dunes Road.
It’s hoped the wooden bridge, likely the last step in construction, will be finished in time to open the trail around Christmas, Cleveland said.
It will be some time before the entire route is built, officials say.
The trail is being planned, engineered and built as funding becomes available, and the final section — the 1.6-mile Harbor Coastal Trail — is expected to be expensive and time-consuming because of its alignment through environmentally sensitive tidelands at the edge of the harbor, where elevated boardwalks will serve as part of the trail.
Even so, the existing trail is getting good use, from locals, campers and other visitors, state park personnel said.
“People have been going through all day,” said biologist Sunny Gillespie, who spent Monday monitoring removal of Monterey cypress at what will be the trailhead for the new pathway.