SHARE THE ROAD — A proposed lower Russian River biking and pedestrian trail could improve safety for cyclists and walkers on narrow stretches of state Highway 116, such as this segment in the Monte Cristo area of Monte Rio.

Sonoma County Supervisors have hired a Marin County-based outdoor recreational trail consultant to find the most feasible route for a Russian River bike path along the river from Forestville to Jenner.

Public outreach seeking feedback on the river trail is now tentatively set to start next month, but no dates or meeting places have been set.

“We’re probably looking at January or February” for public outreach, said Sonoma County Regional Parks Planner Ken Tam. “Once we’ve narrowed down the dates, they’ll be published on the website” for Regional Parks (, said Tam.

The nearly 20-mile-long Lower River Trail would run from the intersection of Mirabel and River Road in Forestville to Highway 1 in Jenner. Ideally the entire trail will be a Class 1 bike and pedestrian path, meaning it would be paved and separate from motor vehicle traffic, say trail planners.

But finding room and right-of-way through the lower river’s often narrow roads and private property will be a challenge.

“This may prove difficult to achieve,” according to the study proposal from Alta + Planning and Design, the consultant contracted to prepare the study.

In October, County Supervisors approved a $664,000 contract agreement with Alta to prepare the study and recommend a preferred trail alignment plus alternatives. The Alta study will include anticipated development costs such as design, right-of-way acquisition and construction.

The study will detail amenities, parking locations and identify implementation priorities by phases and costs, according to the report to the supervisors, recommending the Alta contract. “All this information will help Regional Parks develop a project implementation timeline to complete the project in future phases as funding becomes available,” according to the report.

Study recommendations will include a right-of-way acquisition strategy, an estimate of specific right-of-way needs, costs and potential conflicts with private property owners.

“A significant component” of the trail study involves public outreach, said the Regional Parks report. The planned series of community workshops and stakeholder meetings will be scheduled to solicit input from the public, property owners, interest groups and stakeholders such as the Monte Rio Recreation and Park District, Russian River Recreation and Park District, Russian River Area Resources and Advocates, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, chambers of commerce and visitors bureaus.

After completing the community workshops and stakeholder meetings, Alta will present a draft feasibility study to the public, stakeholders and the Board of Supervisors for review and input.

After public comments are completed for the draft study, the consultant will prepare and submit a final feasibility study to the county. The anticipated completion date is November 2019.

Funding for the study includes a $620,000 state grant from Caltrans, the state Department of Transportation, $120,000 from the Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, $5,000 from the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation, $5,000 from the Monte Rio Recreation & Park District, $2,500 from the Russian River Recreation & Parks District, $1,000 from The Wildlands Conservancy, and $10,000 from the Sonoma County Advertising Program and local park mitigation fees.

No estimate has been released on what it would ultimately cost to build the trail.

Alta Planning + Design will be the prime study consultant with support from Green Valley Consulting Engineers, W-Trans, Nobel Consultants, Miller Pacific and Peter Baye.

(1) comment


A dedicated bike/pedestrian trail along the Russian River would be fantastic. However, I cannot see that ever being feasible. The study will produce a report that will gather dust on a shelf. What we need is more river access. Unfortunately, Sonoma County has been doing everything it can over the last 20 years to eliminate river access.

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