News

St Helena VINE TRAIL Route Study

11/03/2020

The Napa Valley VINE TRAIL Coalition in partnership with the City of St Helena, began a planning process in May 2019 to study VINE TRAIL route options through the City of St Helena between Pratt Avenue, (where the VINE TRAIL will be constructed in 2021/22), and Grayson Avenue. The VINE TRAIL Coalition is funding half of the study costs.

The City of St Helena hired BKF Engineering to prepare the Study. The results of the Study were previewed at the VINE TRAIL Coalition Engineering Committee on October 19 and presented to the City of St Helena’s Active Transportation and Sustainability Committee on October 21.

The goal of meeting the VINE TRAIL’s desired standard of a separated shared use path through an urban area is always challenging and St Helena is no exception. There are right of way, utilities, driveways, and existing parking constraints.

Options were presented offering a range of solutions and routes. The study (click here to view) is broken into three main segments.

Segment 1, the Southern segment from Grayson Avenue to Mitchell Drive, was the same for all options. It would involve widening the existing sidewalk to 10 feet on the west side of SR29 from the High School at Grayson to Mitchell. The route would serve many of the businesses that front onto SR29. Some additional right of way, up to two feet on average, might be needed. Most of this would involve encroaching into existing landscaping. Some consideration was given to reducing the number of driveways. The existing pedestrian bridge over Sulphur Creek can be incorporated because, at eight feet wide, it meets the minimum standard for a shared use path.

Segment 3, The Northern segment, from Fulton Avenue to Pratt Avenue for all the options would follow the Wine Train right of way on the east side of the railroad tracks. There was a sub-option to route the trail down Library Lane and behind the Napa Valley Vintners property to avoid an existing building on the northeast corner of the railroad and Adams.

Segment 2, the Central segment, is the most challenging and there are a variety of options between Mitchell Drive and Fulton.  It was divided into Segment 2a and Segment 2b. Among the options discussed are:

  1. Oak Avenue. This option uses the minimum 8’ wide shared use path standard by replacing and widening the sidewalk on the east side between Mitchell Drive and Adams Street. Telecommunication cables would be undergrounded to remove existing poles from the sidewalk. This option would involve a minimum loss of on street parking. There are only three businesses on Oak Avenue whose doors directly front onto the sidewalk on the east side. From Oak Avenue to Railroad Avenue along Adams Street there are some constrained areas where the width may be less than 8’ wide. There were concerns about conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists particularly at the Main Street and Adams Street intersection.
  2. Oak Avenue Class IV Bike Path. This option retains the existing sidewalk for pedestrians and adds a two-way bicycle path (Class IV) along the east side of Oak Avenue. This would remove over 40 parking spaces.
  3. Money Way: Money Way is a back alley that parallels SR29 (Main Street) and Oak Avenue. Money Way is currently used by businesses for deliveries and parking. The City has been lobbied by restaurants to consider outdoor dining along Money Way during the COVID emergency.
  4. Crossing Main Street at Pope Street and then turning north on Church Street to Hunt and then north paralleling Railroad Ave through the Safeway parking lot. This option would require the removal of parking on Church Street or even the possibility of a one-way system. This option was not favored by either the ATSC members or cycling advocates.
  5. Crossing Main Street at Pope Street and staying on the west side of the railroad tracks up to Hunt Street. This option involves looking at the existing railroad right of way and its use by businesses and residential apartment dwellers for access for parking and deliveries. North of Hunt, the option of routing the shared use path through the landscaping area on the west side of the Safeway parking lot was discussed. Further studies are needed to determine the feasibility of this route.

There were several questions from the public who participated including residents of Crinella Drive, in Segment 3, who asked which side of the railroad tracks the trail would be located in their area. The trail is proposed on the east side. More research is needed on some of the Wine Train right of way options.

If you have comments, please email them to:

Erica Ahmann Smithies, Public Works Director, City of St Helena ESmithies@cityofsthelena.org and Philip Sales, Executive Director, Napa Valley VINE TRAIL Coalition psales@vinetrail.org.