By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A section of Santa Rosa’s Prince Memorial Greenway, closed at night since May 28, has reopened after completion of work to clean up contaminated soils.
Contractors working for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. have been using heavy equipment as they replaced existing soil with clean fill in the landscaped areas along the north side of the greenway near the Santa Rosa Avenue entrance, said PG&E spokeswoman Brittany McKannay.
For safety reasons, the company closed the section of the greenway between Santa Rosa Avenue and A Street in the evenings. The narrower path on the south side of Santa Rosa Creek remained open throughout the work, which took place between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.
The remaining landscaping work will continue for about two more weeks, but the greenway won’t need to be closed again, McKannay said.
The work was conducted not only along the greenway but in the landscaped areas of the adjacent four-story office building at 111 Santa Rosa Ave. That property is the site of a former PG&E manufactured gas plant which, when it was closed in 1924, left behind large volumes of toxic residue such as coal tar.
The utility has been working for years to clean up the site under various cleanup orders issued by the North Coast Water Quality Control Board.
The latest phase of the work involves removal of contaminated soil, replacement with a layer of clean fill, and the planting of new landscaping, McKannay said.
Earlier environmental studies of the property showed the soils to be contaminated with heavy metals and petroleum products. A total of 1,000 tons of soil was targeted for removal, according to reports.
City officials said they were aware PG&E was working in the area, but didn’t know the greenway would be blocked off for the work.
“They told us about the more intense work they were going to be doing there at night, but there was no mention of closure of the trail,” City Manager Kathy Millison said. “That concerns me.”
After the extent of the contamination on the property was publicized earlier this year, PG&E officials pledged to work harder to keep the city apprised of its cleanup efforts.
McKannay said the company did inform the city’s public works department of the closure, but public works officials said they were unaware of the activity.
“I asked around here and nobody knew about it,” said Julia Gonzalez, the department’s marketing and outreach coordinator.
Gonzalez called the greenway a “primary commute corridor for a lot of people,” the closure of which should have been better communicated, she said.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. OnTwitter @citybeater.