In The Loop
The Downtown Connector Loop Trail…
Redding is making an important connection. The Diestelhorst to Downtown trail/bikeway will link downtown neighborhoods and businesses to the city’s popular Sacramento River Trail, making it easier – and safer – to get from one place to the other on foot, bike, skates or scooter. “I am so happy this is going to happen,” says Janelle Pierson, owner of Bridgehouse Bed & Breakfast on Riverside Drive. Pierson has had guests from the Bay Area bring their bicycles only to find there’s no way to navigate the short distance – within view of the B&B – to the Sacramento River Trail without confronting fast cars and busy intersections. “It will be a positive thing for downtown and for these neighborhoods to be able to access the River Trail. It’s going to be wonderful,” Pierson says. Diestelhorst to Downtown ties into a much bigger vision: The Downtown Connector Loop Trail. The circuit, when complete, will make Redding more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, says Anne Thomas, executive director of Shasta Living Streets, a nonprofit organization promoting bikeways and trails to support healthy communities. “With this loop, we are connecting the three most walkable districts: downtown, Turtle Bay and Hilltop (Drive),” Thomas says.
The loop is a mix of existing trails and streets. It encompasses the Cascade Theatre, California Street Labs, Caldwell Park, Redding Aquatic Center, Jump River Playground, Sundial Bridge, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding Civic Auditorium and other key places in Redding’s core. Downtown locations designated as part of the Redding Cultural District are connected by the loop.
While the route already exists, riding it is dicey because of traffic. Plans call for adding new pieces of trail, designated bikeways and other upgrades to create a low-stress, more inviting experience for walkers and bicyclists.
Redding has fabulous trails, but most people reach them by car, Thomas notes. They load their bikes onto the car and then drive to the Sacramento River Trail, for example. If they want to grab a cup of coffee, have lunch or run an errand downtown after the ride, they put the bikes back on the car and drive to their destination. “The Loop Trail allows people to get around without a car,” Thomas says. And that makes for a healthier, more well-connected community. “When you make it easier, safer, comfortable, people come out.”
Downtown Connector Loop Trail improvements will happen piece by piece. The Diestelhorst to Downtown section is a key section. The $5 million project, funded by a combination of federal, state and city monies, is expected to be finished this summer, according to Redding Public Works Director Chuck Aukland.
From the Sacramento River Trail at Diestelhorst Bridge, the new connection will offer two options for crossing busy Court Street: A crosswalk with flashing lights plus an island median or a new trail next to the Sacramento River that will go under the Diestelhorst and Court Street bridges and then up to Riverside Drive. Part of Riverside Drive will be transformed to a bikeway/walkway and closed to vehicles. From Center Street to California Street, there will be a bicycle track (lanes for both directions) along one side of the street separated from vehicles. In addition to the trail and street work, the Diestelhorst to Downtown project includes street lighting, replacing a water line and other utility work, Aukland notes.
Future pieces of the Downtown Connector Loop Trail call for a two-direction bikeway separated from vehicles on one side of California Street, Aukland says. Beyond that, the next project is expected to be improvements on Trinity, Continental and Butte streets. “These are a series of projects and plans to increase the physical activity and health of the community,” Aukland says.
Thomas notes the Downtown Connector Loop Trail merges with downtown Redding revitalization, which includes new apartments, commercial and retail spaces, as well as opening up streets that were once part of The Mall. The Loop Trail will offer convenient ways to get around the new downtown and to link to other parts of the city.
The Downtown Connector Loop Trail also is an important tie-in to Shasta Bike Depot, part of the Bell Plaza project under construction on the corner of California and Shasta streets. The depot will be a hub for riders and trail enthusiasts, with a bike garage, e-bike chargers and trail information.
Thomas says the improvements underway will be a plus for North State residents and boost tourism. “This has always been a place where people want to be outside and be active,” she says. “This is absolutely within the character of our region.”
Win an e-bike! The Shasta Bike Month and Challenge is offering an electric bike to someone who is in need of a bike for transportation to work or school. After the bike is awarded, the group plans to follow the recipient on their transportation journey throughout Bike Month in May. Tell us your story of where a bike could take you at www.shastabikechallenge.org. Starting April 20, sign your team (families, worksites and individuals) up for the annual Bike Challenge! Each day you ride in May is a chance to win prizes from local bike shops and businesses in the community. Sign up and find out more about bike related events at www.shastabikemonth.org.