LAFAYETTE -- The cost of a proposed downtown bicycle and pedestrian pathway is giving some city leaders pause.

An update on the project received a lukewarm response from City Council members last week, who wondered where the city was going to find money to pay for and maintain the paths.

"That could be a real difficulty, may take some time," Councilman Brandt Andersson said.

The pathway would be built on East Bay Municipal Utility District land just south of Highway 24, stretching roughly a mile and a half from Risa Road east to Brown Avenue, through the heart of the city's downtown. The hilly terrain would require a number of switchbacks, and plans include a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Happy Valley Road.

Councilman Mike Anderson asked whether switchbacks were appropriate for a bicycle path. Ian Moore, a senior associate with consultant Fehr and Peers, said it was "less than ideal, but functional."

Council members, however, were more concerned with the project's costs, particularly the money the city would need for ongoing maintenance.

The pathway would cost more than $6 million to build and require as much as $40,000 each year in maintenance, according to the feasibility study the council reviewed last week. The city would likely have to secure grants to pay for construction.

The path's benefits -- better health for users, reduced auto use, higher property taxes and increased economic activity -- would outweigh the project's cost, Moore said. But he also acknowledged the difficulty of finding money to pay maintenance costs, and said he has cautioned other cities not to plan for construction "unless you feel ready to undertake the commitment to identify a reasonable local strategy to maintain a local infrastructure."

Anderson had doubts about whether the project's benefit really would outweigh its cost.

"For a lot of money, you're going to get something that's not going to get a lot of use -- that's my view on it," he said.

The pathway will benefit a downtown the city expects to grow, Mayor Carl Anduri said.

"Given the pressure that's going to be on our downtown area, having this alternate pedestrian/bicycle path is going to be very useful," Anduri said.

But, he acknowledged, "The maintenance is a huge problem."

Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/sosaysjonathan.