Contra Costa County Seal

Contra Costa County
Community Development Department

The Pleasant Hill BART
Shortcut Path and Wayfinding Project

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is this project needed?  Who asked for it?

A: The shortcut path is needed to improve access to the station via alternative modes (walking, biking) to and from the area northeast of the station and the BART station.  

The need for this path is established by the issues summarized below. These range from specific to the project (Traffic Study for the 1998 Pleasant Hill BART Specific Plan amendment) to more general, best practices for planning:

  1. The concept for the improved access to BART to and from the area northeast of the station was documented in the Traffic Report in the 1998 amendments to the Pleasant Hill BART Specific Plan. This recommendation was based on input received from the general public and a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) which included members from the Walden District Improvement Association, BART, the City of Pleasant Hill, the City of Walnut Creek, and the City of Concord. The predominant comment made by the community to the Board of Supervisors was to improve access for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit, instead of widening roads for cars.

  2. Based on BART's 1998 access study and the projected distance savings represented by path options A, B and C, it is reasonable to assume that the path would be an effective incentive in getting people to walk from the David/Minert/Bancroft area. (Check the Announcements page occasionally)

  3. Improving alternative modes assists in reducing automobile traffic and relieves demand for BART parking in and around the station area.

  4. The County and the surrounding cities are committed to encourage use of the Pleasant Hill BART station. The signficance of this project is, in part, that it is being used to increase access to the multi-billion dollar Bay Area wide BART system.

  5. The City of Concord has a trail planned on the other side of Bancroft that would expand the catchment area of the proposed the Pleasant Hill BART Shortcut Path. See the map from the plan here.

  6. Comments from residents who would use the path reinforce the need for a path.

  7. A national survey[1] has shown that more Americans would like to walk to destinations but are held back by "poorly" designed communities. The study also indicated that people's decision to walk it determined by distance and time, 2 things this project improves for trips to the BART station. This report can be found on the project website. The 1998 BART Access study supports the assumption that more people would walk to the station if the route to the north east of the station were improved as proposed in this process.

  8. A Federal Highway Administration report states that "bridging barriers to pedestrian travel" is an important component in making transit more efficient by increasing accessibility for pedestrians.

The signage/wayfinding project is needed to help guide pedestrians and cyclists efficiently around the station area. At the time the planned development is complete there will be numerous uses and points of interest, a well-designed comprehensive signage program will make the station area easily navigable.

Q: Another study should be done to determine how many people would use this path.

A: Given the above stated reasons, doing a study or survey to determine if this project is necessary would fall into the category of "over studying" a project.

Q: Where did options A, B, and C come from? Can we add other options?

A summary of how Options A, B and C came to be:

  • The area that we are trying to improve access to is built out for the most part. Given that situation, there aren't a lot of options for improving access to the station. Aside from the existing easement (described below) using private property to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to the station was not considered. That leaves public property.

  • The only public property in the area is along the BART right-of-way, the flood control district property and the street/sidewalks found in the various options.

  • These areas provided a few opportunities to improve access to the BART station. Staff, acting on the direction found in the Pleasant Hill BART Specific Plan developed options "B" and "C" over the past few years using the available public property.

  • In 2000 a developer came in and wanted to construct some homes at the end of Briarwood. The County, acting on the direction found in the Traffic Study, retained a bicycle/pedestrian path easement when it sold this property to the developer of the homes. The developer in turn had the owners of the new homes sign a deed disclosure acknowledging the presence of the easement. This is currently option "A"

  • Yes, other options can be added. At the walking tour and the workshop 2 other ideas were pitched, improving the existing route along Bancroft, Mayhew and the Iron Horse Trail and transit service to the BART station. These alternatives have been added as "D" and "E" respectively.

 

Q: The path will result in a loss of privacy, property crime, vandalism, and a general decline in quality of life.

A: There have been substantial numbers of studies done that look at these concerns. Specific references to those studies are below. Some studies do acknowledge that there will be some loss of privacy given the additional foot traffic that is likely to be present.

However, the conclusions of these studies are that there is little evidence to support the fear that paths will produce significant disturbance to private landowners. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary:

  • The Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC) issued results from their 1998 survey Rail-Trails and Safe Communities, that out of 372 nationwide trails, including 7,000 total miles and 45 million estimated users, only 3% of trails had experienced major crime.

  • Former opponent of Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle (whose home is on the trail) stated that the "trail is much more positive than I expected. I was involved in citizens groups opposed to the trail. I now feel that the trail is very positive; [there are] fewer problems than before the trail was built; [there was] more litter and beer cans and vagrants [before it was built]." Not a single resident surveyed said that present conditions were worse than those prior to construction of the trail.

  • "Vandalism, robbery and safety concerns I originally had were unfounded." - Landowner on California's Lafayette/Moraga [2]

  • Frequent trail usage minimizes crime and can revitalize abandoned corridors. The Chief of Police in Buena Vista, PA stated, "the trail brings in so many people that it has actually led to a decrease in problems we formerly encountered such as underage drinking along the river banks. The increased presence of people on the trail has contributed to this problem being reduced".[3]

  • A 1988 survey of greenways in several states has found that such parks typically have not experienced serious problems regarding vandalism, crime, trespass, or invasion of privacy. Prior to developing park facilities, these concerns were strongly voiced in opposition to proposed trails. After park development, however, it was found that fears did not materialize, and concerns originally expressed by opposing neighbors have not proven to be post-development problems in any of the parks surveyed. [4]

  • In a 2002 survey of recent home buyers sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders, trails ranked as the second most important community amenity out of a list of 18 choices. [5]

  • Locally, Walnut Creek Police have corroborated some of the above information regarding crime. Lt. Mark Covington stated that trails won't make it any easier to rob homes, if people are going to rob your house they would be doing it already. Officer Covington also stated that if anything, paths will help prevent crime. Criminals don't want to be in places where people are, paths increase foot/bike traffic and would likely be a deterrent to crime.

 

Q: I wasn't involved in the 1998 Pleasant Hill BART Specific Plan amendment process, therefore I wasn't involved in recommending this pedestrian connection. Besides, that document is over 5 years old! I wasn't even here when that document was developed! Given these issues the recommendation in this plan is irrelevant.

A: Planning documents such as the Specific Plan are long-term in nature. The document is still very much valid despite being over 5 years old. The plan was developed as a part of a very public process and received substantial public input (Input was received from the general public and a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) which included members from the Walden District Improvement Association, BART, the City of Pleasant Hill, the City of Walnut Creek, and the City of Concord).

If you weren't here at the time the plan was developed it was still available for public review. It is a good idea to review the long term plans of an area prior to purchasing property.

 

Q: Is BART even aware of this project? Are they involved.

A: Yes. BART is aware of the project and has been involved in the development of this path from the beginning.

 

Q: What is a "wayfinding" system?

A: Briefly put, wayfinding is an approach to designing and organizing a logical system of signs, maps, graphics, icons, surface types to assist people in understanding where they are in unfamiliar environments and how to move about in that environment.

 

Q: If the project is put in who will clean and maintain it?

A: If a path project does move ahead, there is a potential for it to be annexed into the existing lighting and landscaping district at the time the BART property develops. See memo here. The subject of maintenance has been identified as an issue that needs to be resolved before construction would be considered.

 

Q:Can't people just walk around on Bancroft to either Mayhew or Treat? Its not that much farther.

A: Yes they could do that. But the idea is to make walking as attractive as possible. To attract the most amount of people the distance needs to be as short as possible.

 

Q: Who is paying for this?

A: This planning process is paid for by MTC's Transportation for Livable Communities Grant Program and the Contra Costa County Redevelopment Agency. No funds have yet to be identified for construction as this is not yet an "approved" project.

 

Q: How much difference will this make? Isn't there better ways to spend this money?

A: The benefits of this project need to be looked at in the context of the setting and who/what it will serve. This project makes use of an existing, multi-billion dollar public transportation system, BART. Government agencies have a responsibility to make the most of these investments. This path does just that, it improves access for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The path will be used, that has been established by public comment. It cannot be determined exactly how much it will be used however, that would be impossible to determine.

 

Q: Why didn't I hear about this project? When is this path project going to be built?

A: The general plan for the path has been in the public domain since 1998. There is no "project" yet. This is the very beginning of a planning process to determine if and where the path will be built.

 

Q: Does the path go across any private property?

A: One of the path options, "A" (along Briarwood) makes use of an exiting easement that extends across two private residential lots. The homeowners were aware of the existence of the easement at the time they purchased their homes and signed a disclosure notice stating their awareness.

The other option (along Clemson) uses BART and Contra Costa Flood Control District property exclusively as well as public sidewalks and streets. One homeowner at the end of Clemson has an easement to use BART property for use in accessing his driveway.

[1] Americans Attitudes Toward Walking and Creating Better Walking Communities, April 2003, Belden Russonello & Stewart, Research and Communications for the Surface Transportation Policy Project.

[2] Impact of Rail-Trails, National Park Service, 1992

[3] Rail-Trails and Safe Communities, RTC, 1998

[4] A Feasibility Study for Proposed Linear Park, Oregon Department of Transportation, Parks and Recreation Division, May 1988

[5] Consumer's Survey on Smart Choices for Home Buyers, National Association of Realtors and National Association of Home Builders, April 2002.

For more information on this project please contact:

Steven Goetz, Contra Costa County
(925) 335-1240
sgoet@cd.cccounty.us