Bike on river road


Trail consultant seeks ideas and opinions on the Russian River trail

Lower Russian River trail planners hope to start getting some feedback soon from bicyclists and pedestrians who use local roads and trails.

“We want to conduct brief (15 minute or less) informal phone interviews of residents that fit one or more of the following stakeholder profiles,” said Ian Sansom, a planner with Alta Planning & Design, the consulting firm that the Sonoma County Regional Parks has hired to work on a river trail feasibility study.

Sansom identified the four profiles as:

• Families with kids living in the Russian River area who bicycle regularly on roads or trails;

• Senior citizens living in the Russian River area who bicycle regularly on roads or trails;

• Drivers living in the Russian River area who are worried about hitting a cyclist on Highway 116 or River Road, and

• Sonoma County residents who regularly visit the Russian River area but live somewhere else in the county.

“If you fit any of the above profiles and are willing to answer a few questions over the phone, please respond to this email — iansansom — with your availability between Sept. 3 and Sept. 5, along with the profile(s) that you fit, and a phone number where we can reach you,” Sansom wrote in an email.

The interviews will be part of the county’s Lower Russian River Trail Feasibility Study and will supplement public input received in a survey conducted in June, Sansom said.

The trail study area includes the communities of Mirabel, Forestville, Hacienda, Summer Home Park, Odd Fellows Park, Rio Nido, Guerneville, Guernewood Park, Vacation Beach, Northwood, Monte Rio, Villa Grande, Mesa Grande, Sheridan, Duncans Mills and Jenner.

Public outreach meetings started in May to get feedback on the proposed 19-mile-long pedestrian and bike path that would follow the Russian River from Forestville to Jenner.

The proposed “Class 1” cycling and pedestrian path would provide hikers and bikers with a separate lane away from faster-moving motor vehicle traffic on River Road and Highway 116.

The feasibility study is looking at cost estimates, potential right of way acquisitions and amenities such as public parking and restrooms.

County Supervisors approved a $664,000 contract agreement with Alta last year to prepare the feasibility report and recommend a preferred trail alignment plus alternatives.

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.

The study’s funding includes a $620,000 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 and $2,500 from the Russian River Recreation & Parks District. No estimate has been released on what it might ultimately cost to build the trail.

If you are interested in participating in the survey, Sansom and Alta can be contacted by email at or by phone at 402-926-8353.

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