Brea to renovate railway land into trail

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A sign for the “Tracks at Brea Trail” project on Brea Boulevard explains the details of the renovation. (Robert Huskey / Daily Titan)

A railway splitting Brea, which has gone unused for years, will soon be destroyed as part of the city’s upcoming renovation focusing on the placement of a linear park or trails to help uphold Brea’s active lifestyle community.

The city has plans for new trails to be extended four miles from the Brea Canyon Flood Control Channel to Valencia Avenue, which should be completed in 2015.

According to Kathie DeRobbio, economic development manager for Brea, the west side of the city has two active railways which makes it impossible to expand the trail farther.

“Someday, should that railroad become inactive, we would like to move the trail further west, and go to the city’s western border,” said DeRobbio. “Right now though, since it is active, and we really don’t have the financial resources to do that, we are focusing on these four miles.”

DeRobbio said the general plan to renovate the area began in 1986, though most railroad companies were not willing to give up or sell their railroads to the city at the time.

The Brea City Council approved the project in 2007, allowing the city to move forward with the renovation process.

About $14 million in grants and redevelopment bonds have been dedicated to the project, according to the Orange County Register.

The city has spent $12.7 million by purchasing the rights-of-way grants to the railway.

This gave the city rights to the area on either side of the tracks.

Brea City council approved $1.2 million to clean up used arsenic used in the past by Union Pacific to rid the railway of weeds, according to the Register.

Jeffrey Knott, a geological science professor at CSUF, said although it is impossible to completely rid the soil of arsenic because of its recurrent nature, the arsenic levels can be kept at bay through remediation.

By diluting the arsenic to a lower concentration, the soil is safe to build upon.

With the first phase underway in the summer, the city will be working with independent firms.

Geologists and engineers that will be working on the soil remediation plan between the streets of Brea Boulevard and State College.

They will be testing soil and developing ways to clean it up.

The city plans to apply for more grants through EPA, Land and Water Conservation Funds, Habitat Conservation Funds among others.

The project will cost about $15-20 million, the city plans to gather the rest of the funds from private foundations which community health.

Quion Juniel, a one-year Brea resident who runs the ride of ways three times a week said he was unaware of the upcoming renovation project.

“As an avid runner, I know that I will definitely use the spaces and opportunity for me to partake in my daily runs,” said Juniel.

DeRobbio also mentioned that although exercise classes, yoga and bike clubs are all very likely to be a part of the active lifestyles project, the city has not made any steps towards that yet.

The current right-of-way, or spaces beside the tracks, are 100-125 feet wide and provide room for trails, according to DeRobbio.

Spaces for landscaping and possible outdoor exercise equipment could fill these vacant spots along the trails.

Samuel Mountjoy contributed to this report. 

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