Whittier Is Extending Its Popular Greenway Trail

2.8 additional miles due to open summer 2022

Whittier Greenway Trail extension to open in Summer 2022. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
Whittier Greenway Trail extension to open in Summer 2022. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

The city of Whittier is currently building a new extension to its Greenway Trail, a popular place for cyclists and pedestrians. The 2.8-mile rail-with-trail extension is anticipated to open this summer.

Whittier opened its existing 4.6-mile Greenway Trail bike/walk path in 2009. That facility was built on an abandoned rail spur that crosses the city. The greenway features a walk/bike path in the center of a landscaped ~60-foot-wide right-of-way that mostly runs diagonally through residential neighborhoods.

Whittier Greenway Trail map - existing path in blue, new extension in red
Whittier Greenway Trail map – existing path in blue, under-construction extension in red

The new extension will continue eastward, though in a somewhat tighter right-of-way running alongside an active (though infrequently used – just a couple times each week) rail line immediately north of busy Lambert Road. The new extension occupies a fifteen-foot-wide strip of land, so the opportunities for landscaping are not as extensive there.

The existing Whittier Greenway Trail is in a landscaped ~60-foot wide former rail right-of-way
The east end of the existing Whittier Greenway Trail, located in a landscaped ~60-foot wide former rail right-of-way
The under construction bike/walk path (left) runs along active railroad tracks (right)
Whittier’s under-construction Greenway Trail Extension bike/walk path (left) runs along active railroad tracks (right) parallel to Lambert Road (far right)

The $8.1 million extension was funded via a combination of state, federal, and local funds.

The city got the extension construction underway in February 2021. Construction had been expected to take about a year, but hit some relatively minor snags, resulting in a $300,000 cost overrun. Whittier Senior Civil Engineer Michelle Chapman stated that the trail extension project is largely proceeding well, and that delays stemmed from complications in coordinating with the interconnected (also currently under-construction) city/county project to synchronize signals on Lambert Road, with both projects necessitating working closely with the Union Pacific Railroad.

Contractor xxxx
Contractors are currently working on both the Lambert signal synchronization and the Greenway extension projects

Streetsblog visited the Greenway extension project last week. While work is underway on the entire right-of-way, the work is proceeding mostly west to east, so the western couple blocks of the trail are nearly complete, and indeed already in use by a few pedestrians and cyclists.

The west end of the new extension is at Mills Avenue and Lambert Road. This is the site of Oak Station, one of four existing greenway stations that feature interpretive signage, seating, art, landscaping, etc. Oak Station features historical information, sculptures, a drinking fountain, landscaping, and a small parking area for bikes and cars. Chapman related that Oak Station opened in 2019, in part to showcase the planned Greenway extension features for the surrounding neighborhoods.

Whittier Greenway Oak Station
Whittier Greenway Oak Station
Artistic fencing panels at Whittier Greenway's Oak Station
Artistic fence panels at Whittier Greenway Trail’s Oak Station
Greenway Trail extension
The west end of the Whittier Greenway Trail extension is largely complete. Landscaping will be added to the jagged-shaped planters on the left.
Construction crew at work on Whittier Greenway Extension last week
Construction crew at work on Whittier Greenway Extension last week
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Whittier Greenway Trail extension under construction at Colima Road
The trail includes adding wheelchair accessible sidewalks extending across the rail tracks to Lambert. Above is a before image of the currently missing sidewalk.
The trail project includes adding wheelchair accessible sidewalks extending across the rail tracks to Lambert. Above is a before image of the currently missing sidewalk.
Sidewalks to Lambert under cosnt
Accessible sidewalks to Lambert currently under construction

The Greenway extension includes two new walk/bike bridges: at Leffingwell Creek and La Mirada Creek.

New short bike/walk bridge over Leffingwell Creek
New short bike/walk bridge over Leffingwell Creek
New bike/walk bridge over La Mirada Creek
New bike/walk bridge over La Mirada Creek
Some of the eastern end of the project is nearly complete
The majority of the new Greenway Trail Extension runs behind residential and commercial properties

While much of the extended straightaway portions of the project are nearly done, many gaps remain, especially at cross streets. On the east end, just east of First Avenue, the rail and the trail diverge from Lambert Road. This portion of the facility is the least complete. When completed, the trail/path will extend to the city and county border, which is in line with Valley Home Avenue.

East of 1st Avenue
East of 1st Avenue, the rail and the path diverge from Lambert Road (right)
Whittier Greenway Trail construction near the L.A./Orange County border
Whittier Greenway Trail construction very near the L.A./Orange County (Whittier/La Habra) border

There are early discussions of continuing to extend the path eastward into the adjacent Orange County cities of La Habra and Brea. Both of those cities have stretches of rail in parks along the same extended right-of-way.

Quote from Whittier's namesake poet in the sidewalk at Oak Station
Quote from Whittier’s namesake poet in the sidewalk at Oak Station: “The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you.”

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