POINT RICHMOND (CBS SF) — After a decade and a half, residents and public officials on Sunday will finally get a chance to celebrate the completion of the Ferry Point Loop, a 3.6-mile stretch of the San Francisco Bay Trail situated in Richmond.

With the addition of the Ferry Point Loop, the Bay Trail has now completed 341 miles out of a planned 500-mile-long pedestrian and bicycling path that will one day encircle the bay, Bay Trail project manager Laura Thompson said.

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The Ferry Point Loop was the first project that members of the Trails for Richmond Action Committee, a community advocacy group, decided to undertake upon its formation in the summer of 1999, according to TRAC chair Bruce Beyaert.

“Things started out easily enough, but it turns it out it takes quite a lot of time,” Beyaert said. “There’re two key issues. You need funds, money to design and build the trail, and you need access to the land.”

Securing those two things was no easy feat. Beyaert said the Ferry Point Loop was built through 12 separate construction projects.

The city of Richmond kicked in $1.7 million for six separate projects to complete pieces of the loop and private companies helped build four other sections, Beyaert said. The East Bay Regional Park District completed another two projects, he said.

“We were very naive,” Beyaert said. “We had no idea how long it would take.”

TRAC members often wrote grants applications to get funding for both the design and construction of the trail, which typically requires two separate grants, and helped negotiate with private landowners to secure easements to the land, Beyaert said.

Thompson credited a committed and engaged City Council, along with strong community advocacy, that enabled the completion of the loop.

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“The city leadership is committed to completing the Bay Trail,” Thompson said. “And, the local group is really unique…It does take a community effort and partnerships to make it happen.”

The Ferry Point Loop surrounds the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline, a 306-acre park adjacent to the Point Richmond Historic District.

It connects with the Kaiser Shipyard 3 Trail that crosses through the Point Potrero Marine Terminal, part of the Rosie the Riveter WWII National Historic Park.

“It’s the most scenic and most historic stretch in the whole Bay Area,” Beyaert boasted. “It’s really a scenic stretch of trail.”

With the Ferry Point Loop completed, Beyaert said TRAC is a little closer to fulfilling its mission to completing the Bay Trail in Richmond.

Since TRAC was founded, government agencies and private developers have completed more than 20 miles of the Bay Trail, Beyaert said. The city still has 10 more miles to go.

The grand opening celebration of the Ferry Point Loop is scheduled for Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in Point Richmond.

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Those who wish to attend are encouraged to RSVP by emailing tracbaytrail@earthlink.net.

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