TEMECULA, Calif. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined the City of Temecula and the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District May 27 to unveil a new chapter in the Murrieta Creek flood-risk reduction project – a recreational trail.
The new 12-foot-wide, 5,300-foot-long trail system now serves as a walking, running and cycling path, as well as a route for maintenance personnel when needed. The trail is paved with asphalt along the east bank and decomposed granite on the west bank.
The Corps’ Los Angeles District managed construction of the trail through multiple contracts, from 2006 to 2021, which includes a permanent reclaimed water irrigation system and the planting of California-native vegetation.
“I’m so pleased that the Corps was granted the opportunity to be such a big part of keeping community members in Riverside County and the City of Temecula safe through the flood-risk management measures in the project,” said Col. Julie Balten, the Corps’ Los Angeles District commander, “but it’s also such a wonderful bonus that we could help give community members a safe and environmentally friendly space for exercise and recreation that will undoubtedly benefit residents’ health and well-being for years to come.”
Mayor Pro Tem Zak Schwank thanked the Corps and called the trail “a truly wonderful amenity.”
“There’s thousands of folks, who have now something in their neighborhood that’s safe, where their kids can ride bikes, and where they can walk and just be outdoors and enjoy themselves,” Schwank said.
The newly opened trail section – called the Old Town Creek Walk – connects to the larger Murrieta Creek Regional Trail and the Temecula Loop, which is a 17-mile trail that loops around the city and goes to Old Town.
The new section also is part of a larger multi-purpose, flood-risk-reduction and environmental-restoration project along more than seven miles of the creek, which is a major tributary to the Santa Margarita River. The larger project includes about seven miles of channel improvements, three bridge replacements, a 270-acre detention basin with 163 acres of wetland restoration and a 49-acre recreation park.
“This is a project that’s been in the works for many years,” said Pat Thomas, director of Public Works for the City of Temecula, in his welcoming remarks during the event. This creek actually caused significant flooding damage here several times in the past years. The most recent and largest flood that really set this project in motion happened in 1993, where four or five feet of water was covering all of Old Town. So, there was obviously a need for improvements to the flood channel here.”
In 2000, the Corps took on the Murrieta Creek Improvement Project, which was divided into four phases, one of which the Old Town Creek Walk is a part.
“I’m super excited that this is finally done,” said Temecula City Council Member James Stewart. “We’ve been looking at it for quite a long time, and we’re thankful that the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers stepped in and is taking care of a major issue for Temecula and going north. It’s going to be very beneficial to the cities going up there, too.”