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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 25th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 21

Santa Maria awarded nearly $300,000 for bicycle and pedestrian pathway project

By Kasey Bubnash

Several bicycle and pedestrian pathway improvement projects are coming soon to Santa Maria. But first, the city needs to make a list. 

On May 11, the city was awarded a $296,700 Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant through the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), according to a city staff report, which will go toward the beginning stages of Santa Maria's Active Transportation Plan. 

The $296,700 grant–and the city's 14 percent local match of $48,300–will facilitate the design of a connected bicycle and pedestrian network that city officials say will provide safe, affordable, and accessible transportation alternatives to Santa Maria residents. But Rodger Olds, a principal civil engineer with the city, said city officials first hope to develop a list of projects prioritized based on community need and want. 


INFAMOUS ROADS
Santa Maria’s roads in general are notoriously dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. The California Office of Traffic Safety ranked Santa Maria as the 14th worst of 57 California cities its size for cyclists collisions. Thirty-four cyclists were killed or injured by vehicles in 2015, the most recent data available, according to data compiled by the Office of Traffic Safety. Thirty-eight pedestrians were killed or injured by vehicles that same year.
FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM

"Everybody has an opinion," Olds told the Sun. "We're trying to see what the most prevalent opinion is. I think most people just want to feel safe on their bikes. They want a place to ride their bikes and they want a safe place to walk."

The grant, Olds said, will give Santa Maria enough funding to hire a consultant, schedule community workshops, analyze suggested routes to school, look at new and old walking and biking paths, update the city's Bikeway Masterplan, and consider the city's Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility. Olds said all the collected information will then be be included in one master document, listing priority projects that should be completed first. 

Olds said the city won't be able to start using the grant until Oct. 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, and after its start, city officials expect it will take nearly a year to develop the Active Transportation Plan. 

But the city could begin physical work on some of the most needed projects as early as next summer, Olds said, and some other bike and pedestrian safety projects are getting the city's attention now. 

An engineer is currently analyzing roads like Depot Street and College Drive, where bike lanes exist in some stretches and don't in others, to find out which existing bike lanes could most easily be connected. Those connections, Olds said, will be made in conjunction with upcoming chip sealing projects. 

The breadth of bike and pedestrian work needed in Santa Maria will be done only after the city completes its Active Transportation Plan, which is still in its early stages. 

The Santa Maria City Council adopted a resolution on July 17 authorizing director of the Public Works Department to enter into a grant agreement with Caltrans. Olds said once the agreement is laid out and signed, the city will send out a request for proposals and work to hire a consultant. 

The process will be extensive, Olds said, but it will be worth it. 

"We're really excited to move forward on this," he said. 









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