Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Eco-Touring” April 2011.
NAPA TRAILS, Part 1:
The Napa River Trail
Ramblin’ On, by the Napa Nomad – Eco-excursions in the Napa Valley
By Arvis Northrop
Walking, bicycling and improved river access for fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing has already begun in many areas of Napa. It is part of the planning process the Flood District and the City of Napa is putting together for the Napa River Flood Project
The Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, is constructing the Napa River/Napa Creek Flood Protection Project along approximately seven miles of the Napa River. Part of the project will be to construct recreation trails along the Napa River.
The Napa River Trail will consist of several miles of path from Kennedy Park to Trancas Street. This continuous trail will connect with the Commuter Bike Path, providing an off-street bike and pedestrian connection to the west side of Highway 29. It will be a path that runs parallel to the Napa Valley Wine Train tracks.
East of the river, the recreation trail has been completed from Kennedy Park to Hartle Court (behind South Napa Marketplace). On the west side of the river, a public promenade has been constructed from the Historic Hatt Building near Division Street to First Street in the downtown area. The Promenade Trail from South of Main Street to Veterans Memorial Park, Towpath Trail , from Lincoln Avenue to Trancas Street, Commuter Bike Path from Soscol to Solano, the Bay Trail and the Stanly Ranch Trail portion to the river trail have all finished construction and are already in use.
“The trail systems will provide opportunities for the community to view the river and the restored riparian areas,” said Julie Lucido, Flood Control District Project Manager. “Our project includes restoration of floodplains and riparian and tidal marsh habitats.”
Dave Perazzo, City of Napa Parks Superintendent, says his department’s area of responsibility is mainly multiuse trails that link our recreational areas. There are numerous trails in the County, but the City of Napa only maintains the trails that are within the City limits. The newest section, from Soscol to Main, was done within the last year.
According to Perazzo, the partnership with the Flood District has been successful is completing sections of trail as part of the Flood Control Project. As new flood walls or other flood control measures are built, the trail components are considered as part of that project. In many instances the trail doubles as a maintenance road.
“There are some aspects of these projects which are considered ‘betterments’ as they are not necessary for the flood aspect, but are needed for public recreational access and use,” he said. “The City has contributed funding to make these into full public trails with amenities such as benches and trash receptacles.”
Perazzo says the key factor is that the flood control aspect is being developed first, and the trail is part of the end result. Its focus in recent years has been on completing a number of park projects that will eventually be linked by the trail system. These have been funded by grants, redevelopment funds and some capital project budgets.
Extensive trails are planned for both sides of the river. As sections of riverbank improvements are completed, trails will be built, linking up to form the complete trail system. The timeline has been pushed back because of the lack of federal funding.
“As for the City constructing new trails on its own, with shrinking capital budgets we would have to look at alternative funding sources, such as grant opportunities,” Perazzo said.
With funding from capital budgets and various grants, the City has constructed some sections of trail on its own over the years. Sections of the trail at Kennedy Park and along the river from Lincoln to Trancas were constructed this way.
Donald G. Ridenhour, P.E., City District Engineer, agrees that funding has been a challenge, but it is making significant steps now in getting the funding it needs to complete the project.
“I’m excited about the project, but we have some major components left to do. When it is complete there will be much better river access than we have today,” Ridenhour said.
The original plan was to have the work done by 2005 or 2006, but the project is waiting on the funding from the state and federal governments. If all goes as planned, the completion date is expected to be 2015.
For more information visit http://www.countyofnapa.org/FloodDistrict or call (707) 259-8600.