East Edition

Whittier to extend Greenway Trail another 2.8 miles

WHITTIER — Plans are under way for financing and construction of the final 2.8 miles of the Greenway Trail from its current terminus at Mills Avenue to the east city limits.

The City Council Oct. 24 allocated about $2.7 million from its Los Angeles County Measure M funds to the extension project and will use about $8 million in grant funds to pay for the added section.

The vote was 4-0 with Councilman Jesue Alvarado absent.

Final construction plans will be completed in October 2018. Construction bids will be advertised from October through December 2018, with the construction award anticipated in early 2019, Public Works Director David Schickling said in a report to the City Council Oct. 24.

Construction will begin in February 2019 and is expected to take 12 months.

Schickling said planning for the the bike and pedestrian trail began in December 2001 when the city purchased 4.5 miles of abandoned Union Pacific Railroad property, generally running from the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway north of Whittier Boulevard to Mills Avenue and Lambert Road, for $3.66 million.

Construction cost approximately $9.4 million and design cost another $1.2 million, Schickling said.

In 2002, the city began negotiations with Union Pacific to acquire a perpetual surface easement for a trail extension along an active rail corridor north of Lambert Road from Mills Avenue to the east city limits.

In June 2013, the city purchased an easement between Mills Avenue and First Avenue for $2.4 million and in January, the City Council purchased an easement for $1.17 million between First Avenue and the east city limit line to complete the extension route.

The city obtained approximately $11.5 million in grants for the final 2.8-mile extension.

Approximately $3.5 million was expended to purchase the easements from Union Pacific and $8 million remains for design and construction.

In January, the city contracted with RRM Design for $997,128 to develop plans, specifications and estimates for the extension project. RRM conducted site research and investigations and held meetings with stakeholders, including the Greenway Trail East Task Force and the Cultural Arts Commission.

Two public community meetings were held and the Greenway Task Force met six times to discuss the project design, art, grade crossings, operations and removal of vehicular access to adjacent backyards, Schickling said.

RRM is designing the final project, including bridges; trail surfacing; landscape pockets; trail layout; public art; screening for adjacent properties; a required eight-foot security fence between the trail and the active railroad; and a potential eight-foot landscape easement from Union Pacific to plant shade trees.

No trail lighting is contemplated, Schickling said.

RRM coordinated the design of the seven street and active railroad grade crossings with the railroad and California Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The PUC has the authority to determine the scope of work and is requiring $4.55 million of improvements at the crossings. They include:

  • New traffic signals north of each trail crossing to provide direct pedestrian and bicycle access.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle control gates at each grade crossing to discourage illegal street crossing against signals.
  • Separate vehicle grade crossing traffic with raised median islands to prevent vehicles from traveling around lowered railroad crossing gates.
  • Concrete railroad grade crossing panels.
  • Americans With Disability Act-compliant sidewalks behind flashing red railroad grade crossing signals.
  • New railroad grade crossing gates and signals.
  • Right-turn signals to control right turning traffic during railroad preemption.
  • New railroad signal equipment.
  • Relocation of crossing arm apparatus.
  • And modifications to existing traffic signals to provide a protected left turn movement in the north/south direction.

Schickling said cost estimates are $3 million per mile for design and construction of the extension area based on the city’s experience with the existing 4.5-mile trail with 17 street crossings, three bridges and width up to 100 feet.

He noted that the city’s grant applications between 2009 and 2013 for the trail extension generally employed estimates of approximately $3 million per mile.

However, construction estimates developed with the schematic design are approximately $5,795,000 in trail construction costs plus $4,550,000 for the seven crossings. This is higher than anticipated primarily because conditions imposed by the PUC are much more extensive than anticipated when grants were initially sought for project development, Schickling said.

Other costs bring the total project estimate to $15.7 million, including new estimates for soil remediation now that testing is complete; and paying multiple inspectors from Southern California Gas Company and the railroad to be onsite daily to protect a high-pressure gas line and control train movements through the work zone.

Also, labor and material costs increased substantially beyond the cost of living during the 10-year interim between projects, he added.

The $15.7 million project cost can be funded with a combination of grants and special funds pending City Council approval of a budget amendment plus various accumulated transportation grants over the years, Schickling said.

The city receives approximately $1.24 million annually from Measure M and the east extension is an eligible project, he added.