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City studies mobility in Bishop

July 28, 2011

In updating the Mobility Element to its General Plan, the City of Bishop is facing what one official called a “big balancing act” in trying to meet the needs of those who want to see traffic reduced on Main Street and those who want to keep Main Street attractive. File photo

The City of Bishop is updating its goals and objectives for transportation in the city, with public input the primary contributor to the new draft. Dubbed the Mobility Element, part of the city’s General Plan, it will help guide the city toward meeting those objectives, funding permitted.
The city is asking for more public input on this issue that will define how people will get around the city – on foot and by bike, bus, car or truck – in the future.
The element covers every facet of transportation, be it sidewalks, bike paths, semi-truck traffic or pedestrian safety.
The Bishop City Council and the Bishop Planning Commission met Tuesday to discuss the element and review a draft update of the new element and public comments from a Mobility Element workshop held in May. The Inyo County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation on the draft element on Tuesday and the Bishop Paiute Tribe was given a presentation on Wednesday.
Public Works Director Dave Grah said that public input is vital to the update and that no idea or suggestion will be downplayed. He added that he expects public input to expand with the recent publication of the drafts.
Some of the ideas in the draft include:
• New streets east and west of the city that would travel north and south should be constructed to reduce traffic on Main Street.
• The Wye Road, Park Street, and Grove / East Pine areas each may present opportunities to improve transportation while enhancing the surrounding areas.
• A trucks-only route constructed between Bishop and the airport would reduce truck traffic on Main Street.
• All streets in Bishop should include sidewalks, with certain exceptions.
• Pedestrian, bike and transit facilities should be expanded.
There are varying viewpoints from the public as to how to improve or enhance transportation, according to Grah. For example, he explained, there are those who have voiced their concerns about the amount of big-rig trucks on Main Street and the potential safety hazards to pedestrians and other motorists, while another group is concerned that a truck bypass around town would be a death knell for Main Street businesses.
Another example of conflicting public comment is the concern that Main Street is not as attractive or alluring for tourists as it could be. But due to the heavy local and truck traffic, Grah said, not much can be done to make improvements until the traffic problem is addressed.
Grah explained that three-quarters of all traffic on Main Street is local with only 12 percent of the remaining traffic consisting of big rigs. Semi-truck traffic is expected to increase by 30-40 percent in as many years, Grah said.
“If we want to affect change,” Grah said, “the community has to come forward with input.”
He said it is a “big balancing act” in trying to meet the needs of those who want to see traffic reduced on Main Street and those who want to keep Main Street attractive.
The overall goal of the element, according to the General Plan, is to “provide a balanced transportation system that moves people and goods throughout the City efficiently, enhances livability and economic viability, and preserves residential neighborhoods and other environmental resources.”
Some economic viability may be available in the “Opportunity Areas” as defined in the draft, such as at Wye Road, the entrance to the City Park and the entrance to Schat’s Bakkery as well as Grove and East Pine streets.
Grah explained that some of these projects will require “land-use change,” but are also a way to enhance economic opportunities.
An example of land-use change is the following from the draft: “The traffic signal at Park Street is a four-way configuration with Park Street on the east side and access to a commercial property on the west side. Operational issues sometimes occur with vehicles queuing to enter the commercial property and traffic can be heavy in and out of the park during special events.
“Parking opportunities on the east side of Main Street in the City park and land use changes could create a focal point for tourists and residents. Hence, this intersection and the adjoining land uses provide an opportunity for enhancements that can benefit residents, visitors, and local businesses, thereby helping promote the overall goals of the ME. Potential beneficial enhancements to this area could include the relocation of the Park Street intersection.”
Before the element is implemented, it will have to be adopted by the council, preceded by an environmental review and more public comment periods. Grah said the new element should be in place by January 2012.
The draft may be viewed online at www.ca-bishop.us, by clicking on the “New Mobility Element Presentation.” There are three documents for viewing, the “New Mobility Element” and the “Mobility Element Transportation Report,” that go together with the “Draft Element Presentation Material” containing the comments and input from the May meeting.
Comments can be left on in person at, sent in writing to City Hall, 377 W. Line St. Bishop, CA 93514, made by phone at (760) 873-8458, fax at (760) 873-4873 or e-mail at publicworks@ca-bishop.us. In addition, a public meeting is anticipated in the next few months.

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