Road 160 project paves the way forward in Ivanhoe

County leaders, workers and Ivanhoe community members coming together to perform the first dig of the Road 160 Sidewalk Improvement Project, signifying the official start of the upgrade.(Danielle Gutierrez)

Local leaders, residents highlight how sidewalk project enhances safety and mobility

IVANHOE – An upcoming project along a commonly used route in Ivanhoe is looking to lay out the groundwork for a safer stroll down Road 160.

Called the Road 160 Sidewalk Improvement Project, the plan is to bring a slew of upgrades to the sidewalks along Road 160 between Avenue 328 and 332, improving safety and mobility along the route. The project’s groundbreaking was held on June 18 at the Ivanhoe Drive-In, where county staff, representatives and Ivanhoe residents shared their excitement for the upcoming improvement.

During the ceremony, Associate Director of the RMA Michael Washam recalled attending a meeting at the Ivanhoe Memorial building in September 2016, which occurred during the start of the community outreach process for Safe Routes to School. This was a funding source for the project before funds from Caltrans’ Active Transportation Program (ATP) came in.

“At that meeting, approximately 50 Ivanhoe community members identified the top five desired roadway improvements within their community,” Washam said. “Road 160 up to Avenue 332, by Ivanhoe Elementary School, was at the top of the list.”

Washam said the goal of the programs are fundamentally the same in that they promote walking and bicycling while increasing safety and mobility. Now, eight years after that initial meeting, the small town will see improvements to the sidewalks in the form of installation of curbs, gutters, driveway approaches, asphalt pave outs, ADA ramps and drainage improvements.

According to the Tulare County Resources Management Agency (RMA), the improvements will enhance the daily use of Road 160 by giving residents a safe and smooth surface benefitting all community members – specifically students of Ivanhoe Elementary School – by encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle.

“This initiative is not just about laying down concrete. It’s about paving the way for a safer, more connected and thriving community,” Tulare County Supervisor Eddie Valero said during the ceremony.

According to Valero, there are about 600 students who live along the Road 160 route, and roughly 300 of those students use it to walk or bike their way to school. He said giving them a safe and convenient pathway to school will not only enhance their daily lives, but also instill values of community and safety in them.

“When children witness the community thriving and prospering, they are more likely to contribute to its vitality in the years to come,” Valero said.

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Chairperson Mayra Becerra and Vice Chair Connie Vela Solorio of the Ivanhoe Community Council highlighting the benefits of the upcoming Road 160 Sidewalk Improvement Project. (Danielle Gutierrez)

Mayra Becerra, the chairperson of the Ivanhoe Community Council, a not-for-profit neighborhood improvement organization composed of Ivanhoe residents, noted this project is for the betterment of everyone. She, along with other Ivanhoe residents and public officials, also highlighted how a small-scale improvement project like this one can pave the way for larger developments in the future.

“It’s the little things that start building up the big things,” Becerra said.

To wrap up the groundbreaking ceremony before the shovels hit the dirt, a few other Ivanhoe residents shared their thoughts on how this improvement project will benefit the community. They noted they’ve been wanting to see a project like this come to fruition for years, and shared their appreciation over seeing it come to life, especially knowing that it will benefit future generations.

“I am very excited to hear about this project because I know there are better things to come,” Imedla Olivares, Ivanhoe resident, said (in Spanish translated to English).

The Road 160 Sidewalk Improvement Project in Ivanhoe is funded through Cycle 4 of ATP. The total cost of the project is $2,487,500, split between funds from the Caltrans ATP and from the county’s road funds. The project was brought to the town through the efforts of the RMA, the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) and the Department of California Transportation (Caltrans).

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