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New 3-mile trail in Citrus Heights draws support, opposition

Electric Greenway, trail, Citrus Heights
Community members discuss the Electric Greenway trail with a Sunrise Recreation and Park District representative during a Jan. 8 openhouse event in Citrus Heights. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report–
Plans for a paved multi-use trail in the northeastern portion of Citrus Heights were unveiled to residents Tuesday night, drawing supportive comments as well as strong opposition from some residents whose homes border on a portion of the trail.

The trail, known as the “Electric Greenway Trail,” would largely follow an existing SMUD easement under power lines and would travel from Wachtel Way through a residential neighborhood, continue over to Woodside K-8, and then pass through five parks before concluding in the Sunrise MarketPlace shopping area. The majority of the trail avoids residential backyards, but a section travelling between residential homes off Olivine Way has drawn the ire of some residents who don’t want the trail in their backyard.

“We have an existing problem with drugs and theft and homeless encampments in the greenbelt,” said resident Rick Fameli, whose home off Olivine would have the trail going through a 25-foot easement on his property. “Now this greenbelt’s going to be attached to a pathway behind our homes where it’s dark — people could go into our yards, go into our sheds, we’ll have lots of problems with that.”

Fameli said it would be better to have the trail travel in front of his home on Olivine Way, utilizing a bike path in the street. But city staff say it’s important for safety reasons to keep bicyclists and pedestrians separated from roadways, which they say is why the trail avoids streets like Olivine.

Responding to safety concerns about the trail’s location behind homes, Citrus Heights Police Sgt. James Evans told The Sentinel that the trail would enhance safety and provide access to an area officers currently can’t easily get to. He also said the installation of paved trails at Arcade Creek Park reduced homeless-related issues by opening the area up and making it harder for people to hide.

Mayor Jeannie Bruins said she was aware of some opposition to the plan, but said she was a “YIMBY” — a “Yes in my backyard” supporter. She said she lives across the street from one part of the trail near Wachtel Way and looks forward to the trail being constructed.

“I think it’d be an adventure — a dog walk my dog would never forget,” she said.

Electric Greenway trail
A map included in a City Council staff report last year shows the location of a planned 2.9-mile multi-use trail in Citrus Heights, known as the Electric Greenway Project. // Image source: City of Citrus Heights

Over 120 community members, in addition to city staff and others involved in the project, attended the Jan. 8 openhouse inside the multi-purpose room at the Sunrise Tech Center on Sunrise Boulevard. The perimeter of the room was set up with detailed displays of where the trail would travel, and attendees were invited to ask questions of staff or place sticky notes on the displays with questions or comments about the project.

While the trail was already approved as a “priority 1” project by the City Council in 2014 during a controversial vote on the city’s Creek Corridor Trails plan, City Principal Civil Engineer Stu Hodgkins said there’s still room for details to be “ironed out,” and input from residents will continue to be gathered at future community meetings. He said the intent of the Jan. 8 openhouse was to inform the public and solicit feedback from community members on the project.

According to an informational video released by the city, the project is expected to begin construction in 2021 and be completed in 2022.

The $7 million project will primarily be paid for through an SB 1-funded grant. The trail will also include a new signalized crossing on Fair Oaks Boulevard, pathway lighting, sidewalk and gutter installation along a segment of Oak Avenue, drainage improvements, traffic signal modifications, and landscaping.

Answers to additional questions about the project are included below, with answers provided by Leslie Blomquist, the city’s senior civil/traffic engineer.

Will the entire trail have lighting?
Lighting is an option along the trail, however exact locations of where the lights will be installed has yet to be determined.  As we anticipate some property owners will want lighting and others may not, we are currently asking for feedback on specific locations and areas where residents and property owners would like lighting to be installed.

When will additional meetings be held?
We will hold a virtual community workshop to provide community members with an additional opportunity to learn about and provide input on the project.  Also, a second open house will take place during the public review period of the Draft Environmental documents.  We will also meet with individual property owners over the next couple of months and will present the project at a regular City Council meeting.

Has environmental review been completed for the project?
A mitigated negative declaration was prepared as part of the Bikeway Master Plan and Pedestrian Master Plan. Further environmental review is required for the Electric Greenway which is currently being conducted. The type of environmental document necessary will be determined based on the findings of the environmental review and potential project impacts.

Want to share your thoughts on the trail project? Click here to submit a letter to the editor. The Sentinel’s policy is to publish every letter that comes in.

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