Biking or walking the two miles or so from the Iron Horse Trail in Walnut Creek to the east end of the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail in Lafayette now involves navigating a complex series of paths, lanes and unmarked street and sidewalks.

For instance, a bicycle lane along Olympic Boulevard ends just west of California Boulevard, leaving no clear route forward. Much of the gap between the two trails falls within Walnut Creek city limits.

A proposed study by the county will look at the safest and most convenient way to connect the two trails between Walnut Creek and Lafayette, which could one day result in unbroken trails connecting Moraga and Lafayette with Martinez, Dublin and the east side of Concord.

The western limit of the study area is the intersection of the Lafayette-Moraga Trail, Olympic Boulevard and Reliez Station Road. The eastern limit is in Walnut Creek, along the Iron Horse Trail corridor that skirts the east edge of the downtown area.

The city of Walnut Creek on Dec. 18 approved beginning negotiations for a nonbinding agreement to define the roles Lafayette and Walnut Creek will play in the county-led project.

The study will look at possibly improving lanes along main roads such as Olympic Boulevard, Boulevard Way and Newell Avenue. Another possible solution the study will look at is trying to replicate the success of the Lafayette-Moraga Trail by building off-street, "low-stress" pathways, more closely resembling the actual trails the new addition would connect. Building a pathway along Las Trampas Creek, which runs through the Saranap neighborhood into downtown Walnut Creek, will be considered.

Some short-term, low-cost improvements will also be studied, such as installing signs and painting new stripes along Olympic Boulevard, Boulevard Way and Newell Avenue.

The study is being paid for by a $198,000 grant from Measure J transportation sales tax money and will be conducted by Alta Planning & Design.