Liability issues endanger Vine Trail vision

Napa County is balking at accepting liability for a county trail.  It is standard practice for counties an cities to accept liability on multi use paths in exchange for easements.  The county’s liability would likely be reduced by getting more people to travel a pathway rather than a roadway.


Liability concerns are threatening the dream of building a Vine Trail that allows bikers and pedestrians to traverse the entire length of scenic, world-famous Napa Valley wine country.

Building the next, planned nine-mile segment linking St. Helena and Calistoga requires easements from farmers along about a mile-long section of Highway 29. Napa County is to hold these easements over private property.

Farmers providing easements want protection against being sued by trail users who get hurt. The Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition and the county have yet to agree on a way for this to happen, with the county concerned about taking on too much liability risk.

“If we are unable to reach agreement to do so, the easements will not be granted and the Vine Trail will not be built in the county anywhere north of Yountville,” Chuck McMinn of the Vine Trail Coalition told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “We will have failed.”

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