news Great Redwood Trail Bill Signed Into Law
It may still be a long ways off, but Northern California is now much closer to realizing a vision for a continuous pathway spanning Northern California’s diverse and extraordinary landscapes from Marin to Humboldt Bay.
Governor Brown last week signed the Great Redwood Trail Bill, which sets in motion a series of plans and studies to better understand what it would take to complete the 300-mile pathway. Critically, the bill also catalyzes the debt-riddled North Coast Railroad Authority’s shutdown and the transition from rail-to-trail.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Jim Elias, MCBC’s Executive Director told the SF Chronicle last month. “This trail stands to be the John Muir Trail of the North Coast.”
MCBC has supported the bill since it was introduced by State Senator Mike McGuire earlier this year. The Great Redwood Trail would extend the North Bay’s North-South Greenway–which includes the SMART pathway and is envisioned to run from Sausalito to northern Sonoma County–to Willits, and potentially to Humboldt Bay.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled about the Governor’s action, which will launch one of the most significant positive transformations we’ve seen in a generation here on the North Coast,” Senator McGuire said. “[We’re] taking a crumbling rail line, managed by a functionally bankrupt public agency, and turning it into a worldwide wonder of a trail and economic driver for Northern California.”
According to McGuire’s office, public engagement and trail master planning will begin in early 2019. Key deliverables include evaluating the costs, impacts, and feasibility of construction, as well as any right-of-way constraints or issues.
SMART, meanwhile, is in line to manage the right-of-way south of Willits, which has been a source of concern for MCBC given SMART’s poor performance on the delivery of its own pathway. MCBC’s and Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition’s support came with the caveat that SMART must be held accountable to pursue and deliver a pathway along any right-of-way it holds. Our priority continues to be the stretch of pathway in Marin and Sonoma Counties that was promised to voters as part of Measure Q.
As is the case with any large bicycle and pedestrian project, funding the pathway will likely be a difficult feat. No funds have been identified yet.