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Keep Vine Trail on existing routes

Keep Vine Trail on existing routes

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As someone very concerned with the proposed route of the Napa Valley Vine Trail (NVVT), I attended the Jan. 20 meeting of the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency.

One of the issues on the agenda was the feasibility of funding in part by the municipalities and the county to share in the cost of constructing and maintaining the trail. This in part to gain access to a “matching funds” grant of $6,106,000 via the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). This grant falls under the MTC regional discretionary funding, which the NVVT coalition claims will be used to govern congestion mitigation and air quality improvement.

During this meeting, the NVVT spokesman made a very vague statement as to any concrete studies of issues pertaining to traffic congestion. The NVVT proposes the use of “hawk lights” (flashing red lights) in order for trail users to cross Highway 29 north of St. Helena, not once but twice. These lights will cause traffic congestion in which idling vehicles will emit 150 percent more pollutants into the air than moving vehicles.

The notion that the proposed vine trail would ease traffic or be used for local commuters is ludicrous. How many locals will add shopping baskets to their bikes? How many will leave Napa at 5 a.m. to ride in the dark in order to start work a 7 a.m. only to do it again after their work day is over?

The Vine Trail coalition is asking for a monetary commitment of $243,000 from the county as well as $103,500 from the city of Calistoga and $103,500 from St. Helena. Rather than use this money to meet the MTC criteria, these funds could be used for repairs and maintenance of existing roads and bike lanes instead of creating a trail that will be in direct violation of our current Ag Preserve laws, which mandate we prevent and protect our lands from over development.

To quote: “only farm-related activities are allowed in the ag preserve. Recreational trails, for instance, are not approved use.”

We welcome the NVVT as a nice addition to our valley amenities, but it must be kept along existing transportation corridors as the public has been led to believe it would be.

Creating this recreational trail through vineyards along the former railroad tracks will be in direct conflict of law that voters put into place and that has kept our Valley the beautiful agricultural area that we are famous for.

Russ Oles

St. Helena

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