By Gina Yarbrough
San Diego, CA–Balboa Park access in the Golden Hill area is much safer and easier thanks to a $380,000 project to restore the pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists along 26th Street.
On January 31, city and project leaders officially cut the ribbon to mark the completion of the months-long project carried out by the California Conservation Corps (CCC) in partnership with Forever Balboa Park and the City of San Diego. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the north end of Golden Hill Park, along Golden Hill Drive near the trailhead.
With project coordination provided by Forever Balboa Park in conjunction with the city, CCC Corpsmembers tamed the footpath that had naturally been created by bicyclists and pedestrians over the years, clearing, widening, and stabilizing the trail to make it easier to navigate. They also installed fencing to provide protection for trail users from 26th Street vehicular traffic. The final touch was planting 25 baby coast live oak trees along the trail in the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, an important restoration method that will strengthen the grove and eventually add more aesthetic beauty, cooling shade, and other environmental benefits to this scenic park access point.
The project plan began in 2019 when Forever Balboa formed a unique partnership with the California Conservation Corps. After a park ranger identified the unsafe makeshift trail as a priority project, CCC secured state funding with Forever Balboa Park as its nonprofit partner. Forever Balboa Park’s right of entry agreement with the city enabled CCC to begin work on the project in April of this year following pandemic-related delays.
The project is part of California’s Active Transportation Program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging walking and biking to get around. In addition to creating a smoother trail and installing lodgepole fencing, CCC Corpsmembers built stone stairs into the steep hill at the top of 26th Street and replaced the four old, dilapidated wood footbridges.
“Collaborating with the CCC and the city to improve visitor experience and safety, while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is a win-win for everyone,” said Jackie Higgins, Forever Balboa Park’s Vice President of Planning. “California Conservation Corps did a remarkable job on the 26th Street Trail, and Forever Balboa Park looks forward to working with them again in the future.”
“The importance of providing safe and environmentally conscious transportation pathways between our communities continues to grow,” said Lisa Tomas, CCC San Diego District Director. “Unique partnerships like this one, with the City of San Diego, the California Conservation Corps, and Forever Balboa Park, serve the greater good of our communities.”