Visalia applies for funding to connect north and south Santa Fe Trail

The Sun-Gazette

City applies for funding construct middle portion of bike trail from Tulare Ave. to Houston Ave.

VISALIA – There has been a lot of discussion about Santa Fe being the backbone of the city’s bike trail system as the city debates plans to connect the trail to Mooney Grove Park near Cameron Creek. There is already a separated bike path along Santa Fe from Tulare Avenue south to Avenue 272 and from Houston Avenue north to St. John’s Parkway. Visalia has applied for the CMAQ funding to bridge the gap between those two legs. Similar to the existing Santa Fe trails, this $2.5 million segment would also be a Class IV bike route, meaning it is separated from the road and would be paved with striped with a landscape buffer between the bikes and cars.

While not on the current list of bike/pedestrian projects listed on Measure R expenditure plan, the trail would certainly qualify if the council were to approve it as an amendment to the plan.

The bike path was one of seven projects the city submitted to the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) last month for up to $6.1 million in transportation funding to reduce air emissions generated by commuter and commercial vehicles. Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funded projects will be implemented between fall 2021 and spring 2023 out of pool of $10 million. None of the projects will require city funding as local matches will be provided by Measure R, the countywide half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2006.

The Measure R Expenditure Plan also provides funding for Regional Projects, which make up half of the expenditure plan. Regional projects provide benefits for jurisdictions such as interchange improvements, regional widening projects, improvements to major commute corridors and other capacity increasing street and road projects.

Most of the projects will connect current traffic signals intersections to the city’s traffic management network to better coordinate traffic flow within Visalia, the county’s largest city catering to the greatest number of commuters and companies. The projects range in cost from $80,000 to install GPS clocks for better signal timing on Akers Street between Hillsdale and Cypress avenues to $750,000 to install a new traffic signal at the intersection of Burke Street and St. John’s Parkway. Other intersection improvements include:

  • $170,000 to install fiber optic cable and communication equipment on Ben Maddox Way between Goshen Avenue and St. Johns Parkway
  • $530,000 to connect an additional five intersections along Houston Avenue to create an interconnected corridor from Demaree to Giddings Street.
  • $650,000 to replace existing cable with fiber optic cable for better communication equipment on Demaree Street between Campus and Caldwell avenues

The only project that won’t use matching funds from Measure R will instead use matching funds from the state’s Local Transportation Fund (LTF), derived from a statewide sales tax with a portion of revenue returning to cities and counties where it was generated. That $1.5 million project will add a new bus route 17 to Visalia Transit’s fixed routes to loop to the city’s industrial park from the Transit Center in downtown. Recent and upcoming developments at the industrial park in the northwest corner of the city are expected to bring hundreds of new jobs. The funding will operate the route for three years and identify stops for companies who express an interest in bus service for workers.

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