November 9, 2017
By Michael Oppenheimer
The cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville will receive more than $1.5 million for pedestrian and bicycle safety projects, following action by the California Transportation Commission (CTC).
Funding for these community-focused projects is made possible due to the Senate Bill 1: Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB1), which was passed by the Legislature. Until Governor Brown signed SB 1 earlier this year, California had not significantly invested in the state’s transportation infrastructure in 23 years.
Santa Cruz Project
The City of Santa Cruz was awarded $952,000 for the Riverwalk Lighting project. The project includes installation of LED-pedestrian scale lighting between Water Street and Highway 1 on the east and west banks of the San Lorenzo River path.
The project is expected to increase safety for people walking and biking, as well as increasing active transportation options for users of all ages and abilities, especially in the early morning and evening. Lighting can reduce crashes of single riders due to obstacles, crashes between path users who cannot see each other clearly in low light conditions, and collisions between path users.
The City of Watsonville, in partnership with Pajaro Valley Unified School District, was awarded $633,000 for the Lincoln Street Safety Improvement Project. The project includes new and improved pedestrian crosswalks, sidewalks, and lighting between East Beach Street and Riverside Drive near Watsonville High School; bicycle racks, pavement markings, and signage; and education programs that improve bicycle and pedestrian safety. Over the past five years there have been 17 pedestrian and bicycle crashes within a two-block area of Lincoln Street.
“This project will provide a vitally needed safe connection for students walking, biking and skating to Watsonville High School and provide education programs for children and families,” said Jim Murphy, CEO of Ecology Action.
The city and school district are working together to improve safety for students walking and biking. “This grant application came together from a collaborative effort by Watsonville High School, neighborhood residents and the City. We look forward to using the Active Transportation Program grant to make these much needed improvements,” said Maria Esther Rodriguez, Assistant Public Works & Utilities Director for Watsonville.
Road Repair & Maintenance
In addition to these active transportation projects, local jurisdictions throughout the county will be able to deliver more than $7 million in road repair and maintenance projects each year because of revenues from SB 1. Local public works departments will be filling potholes, repairing and resurfacing roadways to extend the service life of public roads. Due to decades of funding shortfalls, nearly 40% of local roads in Santa Cruz County are in poor condition and need repairs.
With SB 1 and the local voter-approved Measure D, cities and the County of Santa Cruz are finally able to start catching up on the backlog and making our local streets, roads and bridges safer, smoother and sustainable for the long term.
SB 1 allows state and local investments, to fix transportation infrastructure, make it safer to bicycle and walk, and improve transit service across California. SB 1 revenues come with strict new accountability provisions to ensure funds can only be spent on transportation. Cities and counties must adopt project lists each year and provide yearend reporting on completed projects for both Measure D and SB1.
In addition to local bicycle, pedestrian and road repair projects, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) and California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) are preparing to award SB 1 funds by spring 2018 through competitive transportation grant programs to projects that improve California’s trade corridors, expand public transit systems, provide relief to congested commute corridors, and help regions, cities and counties build better communities.
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC), Santa Cruz METRO, Caltrans, and local jurisdictions have identified several possible candidate projects for these funds, including bus replacements and projects along congested local highways.
“SB 1 dedicates transportation dollars to transportation purposes. With the law in place we can begin to put thousands of people to work rebuilding California and its local communities – that’s exactly what we’re doing. This investment creates jobs, improves roads and bridges and has strong public accountability. Taken together, these projects will make significant improvements in our transportation infrastructure, our mobility options, create jobs and help grow the local economy,” said Brian Kelly, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency.
RTC Executive Director George Dondero noted, “SB1 will make significant improvements to our transportation infrastructure and our mobility options, while creating jobs and helping grow the local economy.”
Source: Aptos Times