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Guadalupe River Trail

From Yves Zsutty, San Jose’s Trails Coordinator

San Jose already has one of the nation’s largest urban trail networks with over 50 miles developed throughout the 10th largest city in the nation. But that doesn’t stop San Jose staff from extending and improving trails city-wide to meet San Jose’s Green Vision for a 100-mile interconnected trail network by 2022.

On Saturday, April 20, the community, local officials and the trail team celebrated the completion of the 6.7-mile Lower Guadalupe River Trail paving project. The trail system is designated as part of the National Recreation Trail and is developed substantially upon Santa Clara Valley Water District lands through a long-term joint use agreement. In its previous state, the gravel levee trail was well-used, with about 1,000 daily users and 53% reporting that they use the trail to commute to and from work. Both community input and observations indicate that the number of users is anticipated to grow substantially for two reasons. Many more “skinny tire” commuters can now use the trail and avoid busy North First Street to get where they’re going. Secondly, the trail’s great connectivity and amenities support recreation and tourism. In fact, Leslee Hamilton, who’s Executive Director of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, said the project is a “game changer for San Jose because it greatly expands recreational opportunities and supports bicycle commuting through Silicon Valley.”

The trail project is defined by a 12’ wide band of asphalt and gravel shoulders to support high usage and a variety of needs. But the Lower Guadalupe River Trail also employs the City’s newest thinking about trail development. It features highly reflective centerline striping which supports evening commutes. There’s route guidance signage, providing useful information from where restrooms are located to the nearest food establishments.

The trail project is visually distinctive with its compass-like icon rendered in colored pavement and occurring at all roadway entries. A large plaza along Airport Boulevard includes three wing-like structures that educate trail users about the Airport’s history and the science of flight. The wings sandwich acrylic plastic that captures and refracts the light onto the plaza throughout the day. Trail users now get the best view of San Jose’s largest public art piece, namely the “hands” on the Airport’s garage. Later this summer, trail users will enjoy a new piece to commemorate “Lupe” the Columbian Mammoth – recalling a discovery of mammoth fossils in the river channel several years ago.

Here are several pictures, taken in April of 2013 on the occasion of the dedication of the paved link between the airport and Alviso.

Decorative gateways welcome trail users at all roadways (Tasman Drive shown)

Airport Plaza, north of Hwy 880, offers seating, historical exhibit and an opportunity to watch planes take off from SJC

Guadalupe River Trail is enjoyed by about 1,000 daily users with 53% reporting that they commute weekly

The trail cuts through busy Silicon Valley but offers access to nature and open space along the entire 10-mile route

The trail passes by San Jose’s largest work of art, “Hands”, by artist Christian Moeller (along Airport Boulevard)