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Bike path dead ends for now
The city of Ceres might as well put a "DEAD END" sign on its new 2,000-foot Hatch Road bike path. The 10-foot-wide bike path that runs almost a length of a half-mile south of the TID canal bank along Hatch Road, west of Moffet goes absolutely nowhere.

The paved trail cannot connect with Central Avenue because of the fenced-in TID electrical substation at the corner of Hatch and Central. The canal, of course, blocks off any access to the north.

City officials have not planned the next piece of the puzzle because it's going to cost plenty to build a pedestrian bridge over the canal. Nor can they say when the project will be completed.

The city used $220,138 from federal non-motorized project money for the bike lane intended to encourage people to leave their cars and bicycle for less air pollution. City Manager Brad Kilger said the city built the stretch of bike path because those funds would have been lost without a project. He noted that the project went forth "with the understanding that eventually it would have to be connected across the canal and eventually take it to the north side where you have more easement to work with."

Kilger said the project was recommended by its former engineering staff, notably former Public Works Director Joe Hollstein and engineering services supervisor Len Guilette, both who have retired.

"That's not normally how I would approach something," said Kilger. "Now we have the responsibility of locating the funding and working with TID to connect that piece."

Mike Brinton, the interim city engineer, said the project "is on the books to do - just not in the next year or two. I don't know where the funding is ... it's supposed to be pinned down."

Kilger said the next phase will be "a very challenging project ... because of having to get the easement and the additional cost of having to build a crossing. I'm sure TID will be cooperative but you still have to go through the process."

Mayor Anthony Cannella, an avid cyclist himself, said the council wants to develop a master plan for pedestrian trails and bike paths all over Ceres.

The city has been plagued with problems since the outset of the Hatch Road bike path project. The first phase, which cost $233,363, linked Mitchell Road with Moffet Road, giving bicyclists a safer place than riding on the canal bank or on busy Hatch Road. But construction crews from Teichert Construction discovered four elderberry bushes. The bush is protected by law since it is the primary habitat of the endangered species of the elderberry beetle. The city had to make up for the loss of the bushes through a $14,000 conservation mitigation measure.