By Barry Eberling, Napa Valley Register
A new half-mile-long section of Napa Valley Vine Trail along Soscol Avenue is pretty much done and is being used by cyclists, though a few finishing touches remain.
The city of Napa has filled the Soscol Avenue gap between Third and Vallejo streets. The Vine Trail previously simply disappeared for these few blocks along the 12-mile journey from Kennedy Park through the city of Napa to Yountville. That led to a common sight of cyclists on the Vine Trail reaching the gap and looking around in confusion, no doubt wondering, “Where do I go now?”
“This will really help them to have a clear path,” said Chuck McMinn, founder of the nonprofit Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition.
However, the gap closure doesn’t look like most of the Vine Trail, which is a 10-foot-wide asphalt path. There was no room along Soscol Avenue. Instead, the gap closure is a widened sidewalk that runs on the west side of Soscol Avenue. The exception is a short stretch of asphalt path that runs along the Napa Valley Vine Trail tracks behind a mattress shop near Vallejo Street. That extra-wide sidewalk is designed to leave room for both cyclists and walkers.
Chad Myers works at Napa Valley Bike Shop on Pearl Street in downtown Napa near the gap project. The shop rents bikes and sends visitors onto the Napa Valley Vine Trail to ride to such places as Yountville. When the gap existed, bike renters wanting to avoid Soscol Avenue traffic detoured along Yajome Street or perhaps through the Oxbow District. Then they tried to find the Vallejo Street connection. “It’s difficult for some people,” Myers said. MacKenzie Magro of Napa Valley Bike Tours agreed the gap confused some Vine Trail riders. “We’re super excited to have that gap filled,” she said.
Well, almost filled. City of Napa Public Works Director Julie Lucido said some additional work remains to be done.
Flashing railroad signals are to be installed where the Vine Trail crosses the Napa Valley Wine Train tracks. PG&E is to relocate a meter near Vallejo Street. An expansion joint for the new sidewalk is to be installed near the Soscol Bridge over the bypass. There will be temporary closures at portions of the new Vine Trail section as this work is completed. Napa plans to have a ribbon-cutting in the spring, Lucido said.
The Napa Valley Vine Trail is to someday run 47 miles from Vallejo through the heart of Napa Valley wine country to Calistoga. About 20 miles are completed. McMinn said the Vine Trail has more than 500,000 users annually, compared to 350,000 in 2019. Usage is measured with electronic sensors located along the 12-mile Napa-to-Yountville stretch.
For the Soscol gap project, Ghilotti Bros., Inc. did the major paving and concrete work for $728,000. Summit Signal is to design and construct the railroad signal for about $163,000. Lucido said the project is coming in on budget.