After the ceremonial ribbon was cut, a crowd swarmed onto the new Permanente Creek Trail extension Tuesday, striding across a new bridge over Highway 101 and a tunnel under Old Middlefield Way.
A crowd of over 100, including government officials, residents and many Google employees, patiently waited before racing over the extension with giddy excitement, although some were restrained a bit by the hot sun. A pair of Googlers on brightly colored Google bicycles lead the way at one point.
"All you have to do is look at all those cars," on Highway 101, said council member Laura Macias as she walked over the bridge Tuesday. "Maybe a a few pedestrian bridges is not a bad thing."
Construction workers spent the last 18 months on the bridge and tunnel, pouring 2,500 cubic yards of concrete and assembling 470,000 pounds of steel. The extension connects residential areas in western Mountain View to thousands of jobs north of U.S. 101.
The options for pedestrians in the area had been overpasses for Shoreline Boulevard, Rengstorff Avenue and San Antonio Road, all of which "are just really scary," said bicyclist Jarrett Mullen. Accelerating cars getting on and off the freeway will make you "mincemeat."
Macias said she had balked at the original $3 million price of the extension, which grew to $9.9 million with the unexpected inclusion on the tunnel under Old Middlefield Way. "We did the right thing," Macias said of the tunnel, which protects bikers and pedestrians from cars speeding off Highway 101 onto Old Middlefield Way.
"People are already asking when we'll build the next segment," Macias said.
The 1,300-foot extension ends at Old Middlefield Way, but the next segment would continue south to connect to Crittenden Middle School and Middlefield Road. To the north, the Permanente Creek Trail splits the Google headquarters and Shoreline Golf Links and ends near the historic Rengstorff House in Shoreline Park.
"The public works folks did a great job," said former city manager Kevin Duggan as he walked the extension Tuesday. City Manager Dan Rich said Duggan was the original "guiding light" for the project, originally proposed in 2004 and approved in 2008.
Bicycling advocate Andrew Boone, who said he worked with Facebook to get bike lanes in Menlo Park, said Mountain View's commendable work on its trails shows other cities, "Hey, you can do this" and he's heard officials in Palo Alto say, "Why don't we have any urban trails, like Mountain View?"
City officials say it took several nighttime closures of Highway 101 to build the bridge and a three-month closure of Spring Street to build the tunnel. In all it took 38,000 man hours for contractor Gordon N. Ball, a company that has also constructed several other segments of the Stevens Creek Trail,
It's not the only trail segment opening this month. On Saturday, June 23, at 10 a.m. there will be an opening ceremony at the end of Sleeper Avenue for a new segment of the Stevens Creek Trail over Highway 85 to Heatherstone Way.