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7. Trail & Greenway Implementation & Maintenance

Capital Funding Opportunities

Since the early 1990s, the number of programs and available dollars for implementing trails and greenways has experienced tremendous growth. During the period from 1973-1991, the states collectively spent just $40 million on the development of bicycle and pedestrian facilities nationwide. With the passage of ISTEA, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, and TEA —21, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, this number is now $600 million, and is still on the rise. When a trail is proposed, one of the chief concerns of local jurisdictions is that a new project will drain local coffers, and put additional strain on budgets that are already stretched thin.

Contrary to popular belief, numerous local, state and federal funding sources are available to acquire, plan, construct and maintain trails and greenways. In addition, rail-trail land acquisition and construction costs, on average are less than one-fifth those of City roads, and less than two percent of highway construction costs. The public health, alternative transportation, and property values benefits associated with greenway development typically outweigh the initial outlay of funding necessary for their construction. Following is a list of the sources that have traditionally been used to fund trail and greenway implementation.

Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA)

Grant funds for new bike paths, bike lanes, and bike routes, bicycle parking facilities, bike racks on buses, traffic control devices to improve safety, planning, safety, education, and maintenance of bikeways and bicycle parking facilities. Account provides money to local agencies to projects that improve safety and convenience for bicycle commuters. Currently funded at $7.2 million per year, administered by Caltrans.

Bond Issues

Though most of the funds from Prop 12, the 2000 Park Bond have been programmed, in March 2002, the voters approved a new $2.6 billion park bond to improve opportunities for recreation and open space preservation in California. Rail-trails will be eligible under several categories, including Roberti-Z'Berg Harris, and a program to preserve historic transportation structures in California.

Coastal Conservancy

Funded through Park Bonds and acts of the legislature, the Coastal Conservancy is charged with facilitating and maintaining access to the Coast for all Californians. The Bay Area Conservancy is dedicated to improving access to the San Francisco Bay waterfront, through projects that help to complete, or connect to the 400+ mile San Francisco Bay Trail.

Environmental Enhancement And Mitigation (EEM)

The EEM program, administered by the Resources Agency, provides $10 million a year for projects that can enhance or mitigate the impacts of a transportation project. Trails, bike lanes, and other facilities that may encourage alternative transportation modes to mitigate the air and water quality impacts of another major transportation investment, are eligible.

Safe Routes To Schools

This program, funded at $20 million a year, and administered by Caltrans, aims to improve school area safety, and encourage children to walk or ride bicycles to get to school. Bike trails, safe crosswalks, speed humps, stop signs and other school area traffic calming or safety improvements are eligible.

TDA Article III

Awarded to local agencies as block grants, Transportation Development Act III funds cover bicycle and pedestrian projects in California. Administered locally, TDA Article III funds are state gas tax monies, and are distributed based on population.


Federal gas tax funding through TEA 21 (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century) has been the single largest source of funding for trail and greenway projects across the United States. There are several funding sources through TEA-21 for which trails are eligible. Currently TEA-21 contains three major trail-funding programs: the Transportation Enhancements Activities (TEA), Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) and The Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Trails have been the most successful under the TEA program, which currently provides roughly $60 million a year to California, for projects that create a more balanced transportation system, and provide travelers with more choices and a richer experience.

In the Bay Area, the TEA funds are administered through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Transportation for Livable Communities (TLC) program (the grant that funded this concept plan). Typically, $9 million a year is available for capital construction projects. CMAQ and the Recreational Trails Program provide $350 million, and $50 million respectively, on a national level every year through 2003. The Recreational Trails Program is notable because it is available to fund trail maintenance, a top concern of local agencies.

Transportation Funds For Clean Air

TFCA funds are available for transportation projects that improve air quality in California, and bicycle projects are one eligible category. These funds are distributed through the regional level; the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) administers the $18 million annually available in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Transit Development Fees

One means to underwrite maintenance of transit systems used in San Francisco are Transit Development Fees, which are levied on real estate development projects downtown, in proportion to the costs of their developments. In downtown San Francisco, where more automobile parking is discouraged, the MUNI bus and railway system is funded in part by local real estate developers; the scope of this program could be expanded to include other areas of the City, and to fund the maintenance of bicycle transportation projects.

Bonus Incentives for Development Projects

Common practice in the entitlement process for real estate development is to give bonus incentives to projects that fulfill some policy goals of the Planning Department. Projects may obtain permission to build higher than normal, for example, if they contribute land or money to neighborhood parks or a bikeway project nearby.

Maintenance Funding Opportunities

An ongoing maintenance and improvement program will ensure that the entire bikeway is kept in optimal condition, and meets or exceeds existing standards. Landscaped areas along the trail will require some periodic maintenance, but good design can keep this to a minimum. Low maintenance and drought resistant trees, shrubs, and ground covers can also minimize upkeep activities. The UC Extension class provided recommendations for plantings that are included in Appendix F.

One specific concern raised by numerous stakeholders was that landscaping in this area would attract homeless encampments. At the Yerba Buena Center Gardens, trained social workers are hired as security guards and are better equipped to work with the homeless and refer them to social service agencies. A similar model might work along the MCB.

Like all transportation improvements, bikeways require funding and staff time for maintenance. Fortunately, several strategies and funding programs are available to reduce the burden to local agencies. Hundreds of trails around the state provide examples of successful management and maintenance strategies. Following is a series of suggestions for innovative ways to fund continued maintenance of the Mission Creek Bikeway.

Business Improvement Districts (BID)

A common strategy to ameliorate conditions in commercial areas, special assessment districts can be created to subsidize landscaping, streetscape improvements, and other amenities for local residents and employees. San Francisco's Union Square presents a successful model of this strategy; revenues from local businesses currently fund a program to keep streets clean and safe. Similarly, a BID would be one way to fund maintenance of the Mission Creek Bikeway and associated landscaping. A BID would require strong support from the area's businesses, which seems to be largely in place along the proposed alignment.

California Conservation Corps

This is not a grant program, but a low-cost source of labor, that can be used to build or maintain trails. The mission of the CCC is to provide meaningful work and educational opportunities to assist young men and women, while protecting and enhancing California's environment, human resources and communities. The program is organized to provide corps members and services depending upon the project requirements. A crew consists of 10-15 well-trained young men and women; a staff supervisor who directs the crew; a vehicle, and basic tools.

Recreational Trails Program

A portion of the federal Transportation Legislation, TEA-21, the Recreational Trails program is notable because it is commonly used for trail maintenance. Administered in California by State Parks, this program provides $50 million annually for trail projects across the country.

Funding Opportunities Unique to the Mission Creek Bikeway

The City's eastern neighborhoods are undergoing rapid change. These redevelopment efforts present creative opportunities to fund the MCB, including through existing budgets, developer fees, and other private sources. The following is a discussion of these opportunities, for the entire right-of-way and by project segment.

General Funding Sources for MCB Project

SF/PUC Water Department Bond

A potentially significant source of local funding within the City and County could be the SF PUC/Water Department (Hetch Hetchy Power and Light). There is a major Capital Improvement Project planned to repair and improve the fresh water and waste water treatment systems in San Francisco. Since one of the main sewer collection systems follows the route of the Bikeway (see appendix K), there may be opportunities to include aspects of the MCB Project in the upcoming capital improvement bond. Hetch Hetchy Power & Light have also been identified as a landowner adjacent to the Bikeway at the entrance at Treat and Harrison, and their small building at 15th and Harrison has been identified for a potential community resource center. (See discussion under NEMBA on page 61)

San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG)

This non-profit organization, a project of SF DPW, provides landscaping training to men and women from low-income backgrounds, who provide project and maintenance assistance to over 100 gardens citywide. SLUG would be a valuable partner in developing and maintaining landscaping areas along the MCB.

Funding Sources By Project Section

Treat Avenue Street Reconstruction

The San Francisco Department of Public Works (SF DPW) has an ongoing railroad track removal and street reconstruction program citywide, which already removed the tracks along Harrison St a few years ago. The program also includes Treat Ave. between Harrison and Bryant, but the scheduling of this work was postponed while the MCB planning team finalized their proposal. Joe Ovadia of SF DPW, who coordinates this program said that the northern section of Treat Ave. is currently scheduled for early 2003, and it would be possible to get some of the improvements proposed in the MCB Plan done at this time if the required sidewalk legislation for curb bulb-outs, etc. could be completed by that time. Plans for landscaping the section between 15th and 16th are too ambitious to be included in their routine sidewalk budgets, and will need to secure additional funding to be implemented.

Division Street Bikeway

Three "pocket parks" along Division St, at Bryant, San Bruno and at 9th Street are proposed to landscape the Greenway. Local businesses may be willing to contribute time, money, and materials to these pocket parks, which may be more difficult to fund through traditional non-motorized transportation funding. Developer fees collected from surrounding developments could also be levied to support these landscaping improvements (see above).

Eighth and Townsend Circle

Bike lanes along Division Street east of the circle are already included in the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. Presumably, the remaining striping will be done using existing City funds with the relatively minor adjustments proposed herein. Most of the other proposed improvements: curb bulb-outs and minimal landscaping, could be absorbed by the private developers who have proposed large projects on the adjacent properties.

For instance, the owner of the Showplace Square properties-- the Bay West Group, currently maintains existing landscaping at the center of the Townsend traffic circle. If funds are obtained to expand the landscaping, including adding public art, they may be willing to assist in the maintenance of these expanded areas. The Bay West Group has also agreed to improve at least a portion of their triangular parcel at the corner of Vermont and Division with landscaping.

Commons Crossing to Mission Bay

The preferred alternative from the "upstream" Mission Creek corridor, across the railroad tracks to Mission Bay and the Channel Park, would be a non-motorized bridge, which would be of significant cost, most likely over a million dollars. Projects such as this have been awarded grants under the major trail funding sources mentioned above, such as Transportation Enhancements, Bicycle Transportation Account, and federal/ state appropriations. Funding for Alternative #2 would likely come from similar sources, yet could be at least partially covered by developer's fees.

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