Happy (Uvas Creek) trails to you

City of Gilroy

The City of Gilroy is in the midst of a project that will extend the trail at Uvas Creek near Christmas Hill Park about a half-mile, to Ascension Solorsano Middle School.

The 2,200-foot long project is one of 60 trails mapped out in Gilroy’s Master Trails Plan that have yet to be completed, a 110-page document from 2005 that outlines the city’s goal to have an infrastructure of trails all over the city.  

The $312,632 project is mostly funded by a competitive California resource agency grant the city won in 2006 in the amount of $229,574.

The remaining $83,058 is paid for by the city and was approved as an expenditure on a 6-0 vote (with Councilman Perry Woodward absent) during the Aug. 6 regular City Council meeting.

The city hired Guerra Construction from Santa Clara for the project.

The trail – a paved, well-lit and American Disabilities Act accessible “class one bike path,” – will likely be completed by the third week of November, according to Teresa Mack, city development engineer.

Bill Headly, the trail’s project manager, said recent rain has stalled the paving work that had been started earlier in October.

Once completed, ongoing maintenance of the project will include mowing, herbicide applications, pruning and garbage clean-up, as the Master Plan outlines.                

Because the project links a well-used community park with a middle school half a mile away, Solorsano administration praises it.

“This will provide our kids a nice paved trail where they don’t have to walk through the muddy field from the park anymore,” said Solorsano Assistant Principal David Laboranti. “It will also relieve some of the congestion in our parking lot, since our kids will have another way of accessing the school.”

According to a city staff report from August, the city seeks to eventually continue the trail to Santa Teresa Boulevard, another .3 mile extension from the current project’s stopping point at Grenache Way and Club Drive. The remaining one-third of the project is on hold because the Santa Clara County Habitat Conservation Plan has yet to issue an environmental impact report for the area. The plan will eventually issue a report, but because the Habitat Plan is still being voted on, that report could take quite some time.

But even small pieces of Gilroy’s recreational puzzle mean progress for the far-reaching vision to give Gilroy a network of 43.2 miles of paved trails.

There is no rush to complete the Master Plan, rather, trails will be realized over time as funding for projects becomes available.

The goal is to establish a citywide network of routes, eventually connecting the dots to create a grid of paths that link schools, neighborhoods, the downtown, parks, places of employment and Valley Transit Authority bus stops.

“This segment on the Master Plan is an important link. It will help connect a school, and allows park visitors and users to come into Christmas Hill Park,” Headly said. “It will provide recreational opportunity, trip reductions and get people out of their cars and on their feet.”

Headly said the estimated $51 million Master Plan will take several generations to complete.

“For some of these trails, it will be 20 years before they are finished and it will be up to the grandkids to hold them up and continue them,” he said.

When the Master Plan is finally completed someday, Headly said it will be a feather in the community’s cap.

“It’s exciting to be part of the Gilroy community because we have room to grow and have the chance to establish this trail system as we build our community out,” he said.