Ohlone Greenway Replanting Starts in February

BART earthquake retrofitting work from Portland to Brighton is nearly done; trees and grass will be replanted soon.

The from Portland Avenue to Brighton Avenue is wrapping up, and that part of the will be starting in the second half of February.

Since October, crews have been expanding the underground bases for the BART tracks’ support piers. Most of the holes have now been filled in, and workers are adding rebar to the tops of some of the piers, as needed, said Jason McLean, BART’s community relations liaison.

On the Portland-to-Brighton section, fences should come down between mid- and late-February, McLean said. The bike/pedestrian path will be open while the greenway is re-landscaped over the following six weeks, starting in mid- to late-February. The planting should be done by mid-April.

(The Solano Avenue-to-Dartmouth Street portion of the greenway will remain closed. Work there is scheduled to continue until September.)

The landscaping agreement was hammered out several years ago between BART and the city of Albany. The bike path will be completely rebuilt, following the same route. At 16 feet across, it will be twice as wide as before. That includes two feet on either side paved with decomposed granite (a sandy-looking material) for joggers.

The old paved walking path will be unchanged (except for repairs to any damage that construction may have caused).

Many new trees will be planted, although none under the BART tracks, which used to be lined with flowering crabapples (as well as several larger trees that were bumping up against the tracks). Some Japanese flowering crabapples will be added along Masonic Avenue. The young trees will be six feet tall and can be expected to start blooming next year, said Tony Wolcott, Albany’s urban forester. 

Many of the trees going in along Masonic and at the corners will be chosen from the city’s approved street tree list.

On the east edge of the greenway, along the private property line, several varieties of large trees will be planted, eventually providing a visual barrier and sound screen between residences and BART trains. But, “it’ll be 10 years until one sees a screening effect,” Wolcott said.

Those trees include Japanese black pines, Catalina ironwoods and Catalina cherries—the last two are native to California.

“Everything we designed to be fairly drought-tolerant,” Wolcott said.  

On the greenway from Garfield Avenue to Portland, a number of coast live oaks will be planted and should be “good-sized” within five years, Wolcott said.  Deciduous scarlet oaks and red oaks will also be planted in that section, providing fall color.

Other parts of the greenway will get grass—sod in some places, seed in others—and native grasses, as well. Street corners will get special plantings with low bushes.

The landscape design was done around 2008, by Gates + Associates, based in San Ramon, Wolcott said. The then-existing Albany Tree Task Force responded to that design with suggestions. 

One request, which came in fairly late in the planning process, Wolcott said, was for fruit trees. About 20 will be planted later, mostly near the Community Center, but not as many as requested, he said. The fruit trees will include several varieties of persimmon, quince, lemon, apricot, pear, Asian pear, apple and crabapple.

Despite comprehensive plans for re-landscaping, there will still be room, after the project is completed, for additional plantings that community members might request, Wolcott said.

The landscaping will be paid for by BART construction funds, which came from Measure AA in 2004.

At the north end of the greenway, near Brighton, Wolcott plans to build a fence to protect the new trees from cars using in the adjacent parking lot. The rustic, 4-foot-high fence will be made entirely of wood that has been cut in and near Albany, Wolcott said. Eucalyptus ironbark posts will be placed six feet apart and woven with willow saplings that will be cut from the and/or eucalyptus saplings from .

When the landscaping is complete, some areas will be cordoned off with flexible fencing for a while to protect new plantings.

Once this section, from Portland to Brighton, is finished, BART will begin retrofitting the section from Brighton north to Fairmount Avenue in El Cerrito.

For questions on the landscaping, contact Tony Wolcott at 510-559-4275 or twolcott@Albanyca.org. For questions on the BART construction, contact BART community relations liaison Jason McLean at (510) 464-6197 or jmclean@bart.gov.

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email at albany@patch.com.  

Laurel Benjamin February 01, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Good information on what to expect with trees and landscaping. What about the benches already there, and what of the workout stations for runners? Those were put in from the beginning.
Mary Flaherty February 01, 2012 at 05:51 PM
This from Tony Wolcott, Albany's Urban Forester: "Maintenance always an issue - my staff - me - and educated pruners will maintain."
Mary Flaherty February 01, 2012 at 05:53 PM
This from Tony Wolcott, City of Albany: "Benches stay unless destroyed during construction - what you see now - square benches will stay." For information on the workout stations, see this earlier Patch article: You Ask: The End of Albany's Greenway Parcourse? at http://albany.patch.com/articles/you-ask-what-s-destined-for-the-ohlone-greenway-parcourse
Simon August 07, 2012 at 02:29 PM
any updates on when the work on the greenway will be completed in Albany? It has been going on for a year now and it does not look close to being finished - at least in the areas south of Marin Avenue.
Mary Flaherty August 08, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Simon, I talked to Greg Jacobs, Albany's engineering contractor, about this yesterday. He said the pathway between Brighton and Portland is due to be paved next week, and work should take a week. Paving of the Marin-to-Dartmouth section should follow soon after, but he didn't have an actual date to give. Once paving is done, striping can be done about two weeks later. After paving & striping, the paths can be re-opened to the public (September, barring delays), but the dirt areas will remain fenced off while landscaping is being done. All this work was started last October, 10 months ago. The Brighton-to-Portland section was originally scheduled to be done in February 2012, so it's quite behind. But the Marin-to-Dartmouth section was originally scheduled to last until this September, so it's not actually behind schedule. You might want to read these stories for further information: http://albany.patch.com/articles/bart-seismic-work-starts-in-albany-oct-3 http://albany.patch.com/articles/beautiful-but-high-maintenance http://albany.patch.com/articles/rain-delays-bart-work http://albany.patch.com/articles/delays-along-the-greenway


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