A long-awaited fix to Mountain View's popular Stevens Creek Trail is finally on the horizon, with construction slated to begin this summer on an eroding, weather-beaten portion of the trail that has been out of commission for more than a year.
And while the Santa Clara Valley Water District is in charge of designing and managing repair work on the creek bank and re-establishing the trail, the city of Mountain View will be on the hook for costs related to the trail itself. City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to pitch in $595,000 in construction costs.
Troubles on the problematic trail segment between El Camino Real and Yuba Drive span back to January 2017, when a major storm system and a specific weather event that water district staff refer to as the "President's Day storm" caused severe erosion that rendered the trail dangerous and unusable. Erosion unexpectedly worsened during the summer months, and by August a portion of the paved trail had collapsed, threatening nearby private property.
The city, in the interim, has guided thousands of bicyclists and pedestrians who rely on the trail daily as a commute path and recreational space onto a newly-constructed detour through adjacent private property, but even that temporary solution has been fraught with problems. It debuted in June 2017, only to be shut down two months later for emergency repairs to the creek bank. The detour was reopened in November but now faces closure again for the final, permanent fix later this year, pushing bicyclists and pedestrians onto surface streets.
The water district's construction plans call for repairing and rebuilding the creek embankment previously shored up during emergency repair work last year, as well as building and realigning the now-missing portion of the bike and pedestrian trail. The contract was awarded to PMK Contractors, LLC for just over $1.1 million, and water district officials are hoping to defray most of those costs through grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES). Staff from both agencies visited the trail to inspect the damage in August 2017.
The city of Mountain View, which pays specifically for trail-related costs, is expected to foot $595,000 of the bill, of which $177,000 will go toward paying for the emergency shoring work along the creek bank last year. The city is also pursuing FEMA grants for repair work last year as well as the upcoming construction, and is eligible to receive up to $239,000 in reimbursement.
Stevens Creek Trail has grown in popularity over the years as an important commuter corridor as well as a recreational path through the city, shifting from a tree-filled winding trail in the south to an open bayside path further north. Trail counts from 2015 show that more than 2,000 bicyclists and pedestrians used the trail during morning commute hours, and it was dubbed an "extremely important" resource by Google officials who urged the water district to move fast on creek trail repairs last year.
Once construction begins, bicyclists and pedestrians will lose access to the temporary detour and will need to travel along El Camino Real and Yuba Drive in order to accommodate construction access. Although specific dates are not available, construction is expect to begin this summer and will finish by the end of the year.