Crossing closure threatens trail

C Street closure street viewOn Tuesday the Sacramento City Council will be asked to direct the Public Works Department to proceed with closing the at-grade crossing of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at C Street in Midtown, directly next to the entrance to the Sacramento Northern Bikeway.

The City of Sacramento negotiated the closure with UPRR in exchange for approval to open a new at-grade crossing for Ramona Ave. across a UPRR siding in the Power Inn area.

Ramona Ave. mapWe support the proposed new Ramona Ave. crossing — it’s essential for providing access to the new housing to be built for Sac State University students and other developments proposed for the area.

But closing the C Street crossing in exchange threatens to isolate the Sacramento Northern Bikeway entrance, the main access to the American River Parkway from Midtown, at the expense of nearby residents and trail users. Read our analysis of the proposed closure of the C Street crossing

The C Street crossing would be closed to all traffic, including motor vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. On the west side of the tracks, the closure would create two blocks of dead-end street — 19th Street between D and C streets and C Street between 19th Street and the UPRR tracks — leading to the trail entrance.

This section of the Sacramento Northern Bikeway already suffers from being isolated behind the adjacent Blue Diamond plant. We frequently hear from people, especially women and families, who won’t ride there due to safety concerns.

Further isolating the trail will discourage people from walking and biking along the trail, and attract more of the problems such as vagrancy and illegal camping that already make the trail feel unsafe.

These impacts also would undermine the City of Sacramento’s investments in the new Two Rivers Trail along the south side of the American River just north of the trail entrance and Sacramento County’s project to introduce bicycling on unpaved maintenance and fire roads later this year in the Woodlake and Cal Expo areas of the American River Parkway.

We propose that closure of C Street come with a firm commitment by the City of Sacramento to extend the Sacramento Northern Bikeway trail entrance one block south from C Street to D Street. Public Works Department staff have already considered a trail extension as a solution to the impacts of closing the crossing.

A relocated trail entrance would increase safety, thanks to the eyes and ears provided by vehicle traffic on D Street. It would be more easily reached by Midtown residents living east of the UPRR tracks and trail users who reach the entrance from 20th Street. If designed with plenty of lighting and secure fencing, a new trail entrance could be better than the existing entrance.

C Street closure aerialSo far, UPRR has refused to discuss extending the trail, which would cross UPRR property, even when the trail extension has been suggested by City of Sacramento Public Works staff. We’ve been working with local elected officials on a strategy to increase pressure on UPRR.

What you can do: If you live near the trail entrance or you use the C Street entrance to access the Sacramento Northern Bikeway for biking or walking, please let your City Councilmember know you care about the trail and want to see the entrance extended to D Street. Also plan to attend Tuesday’s City Council hearing, which starts at 6 PM, in the new City Hall near 10th and I streets.