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State helps fund local road projects

February 17, 2014

Via the Sunland Drive Bicycle Lanes Project, paths will be put in on both sides of Sunland Drive from West Line Street (east to west in foreground) to U.S. Highway 395 to provide a safer and less-congested alternative bike route, Caltrans said. Photo by Marilyn Blake Philip

Inyo County and the City of Bishop will benefit from newly-allocated California Transportation Commission funds which will allow several Public Works projects to move forward.
The CTC recently allocated $138 million in new funding to 32 projects aimed at improving infrastructure such as highways, bridges and passenger rail, while also strengthening the state’s economy, according to a Jan. 31 Caltrans news release.
Three of the 32 projects to receive funding are located in the Bishop area: $65,000 for Inyo County’s South Bishop Resurfacing Project; $62,000 for the county’s Sunland Drive Bicycle Lanes Project; and $190,000 for Bishop’s Pine to Park Path Project.
South Bishop Resurfacing Project will reconstruct and resurface 4.3 miles of pavement on three South Bishop county roads to “extend pavement life and improve safety,” states the release. The Sunland Drive Bicycle Lanes Project will construct bike lanes on both sides of Sunland Drive, and some of Sunland Reservation Road, from U.S. Highway 395 to State Route 168/West Line Street, “to provide a safer and less-congested alternative bicycle route along 3.8 miles of roadway.” 
The two county projects have been combined and are currently in the design component, said Transportation Planner Courtney Smith of the Inyo County Public Works Department. The county hopes to receive further Statewide Transportation Improvement Program funds – the main source of county and city project funding – this December, Smith added. “Then construction would be in summer of 2015.”
The city’s ongoing Pine to Park Path Project will create a 1,000-foot paved bike-and-pedestrian path, connecting North Third and East Pine streets to the Bishop City Park and serving as a “connection between the surrounding neighborhood and the City Park,” according to the Caltrans release.
Public Works Director David Grah said that while CTC funding is “a very big step,” there is some uncertainty about what the next step will be. “Normally when the CTC allocates funds to a project, we can almost immediately advertise the project for construction bids,” Grah said. However, because the project uses federal funds, an additional Caltrans and Federal Highway Administration form is required, which can take anywhere from a few days to six months to obtain. “In any event, we are waiting to get a better sense of when this form will be completed before we starting talking about a firm schedule.”
According to Grah, once the form is in hand, Public Works will ask for City Council approval to put the project out to bid. “We expect this to happen in the next one to six months” with a one- to two-month construction period starting about two months after that. 
The $138 million CTC fund represents about $25 million from the 2006 Proposition 1B transportation bond and the remaining $113 million “came from assorted transportation accounts funded by state and federal dollars,” the release states.
“From one end of the state to the other, transportation projects are providing good paying jobs while at the same time reducing traffic congestion for the people and businesses in California,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

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