19 Aug 2014
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Ohlone Greenway Replanting Starts in February

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

Ohlone Greenway Replanting Starts in February Ohlone Greenway Replanting Starts in February Ohlone Greenway Replanting Starts in February Ohlone Greenway Replanting Starts in February Ohlone Greenway Replanting Starts in February Ohlone Greenway Replanting Starts in February

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.  

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