Bishop resident Carmen Rodriguez walks to her shop, The Little Corner Used Items and More, on North Sierra Highway, where Inyo County and Caltrans hopes to build a new sidewalk. Rodriguez said she sees people walking on the strip of highway daily, and a sidewalk will improve safety (and possibly foot traffic to her business).
Photo by Mike Gervais
Inyo County and Caltrans are partnering to apply for state funds to improve pedestrian safety and promote foot travel in three local communities.
Local leaders hope to harness more than $4.5 million in state Active Transportation Program grants to build sidewalks adjacent to U.S. Highway 395 in Lone Pine and Bishop, and to build a bike lane in Big Pine.
According to Inyo County Transportation Planner Courtney Smith, in past years the state provided Inyo with funding through its Transportation Enhancement program each year. However, this year, the state has consolidated a number of funding programs under the ATP umbrella. Smith said this new system could be a blessing or a curse. âWe could end up getting more money than beforeâ through the new process, but, if the three grant applications the county submits are rejected, the county could end up with no state road funding for the year.
With that in mind, Smith said the county selected the best possible projects, which all meet the goals of the grant by encouraging non-motorized travel and improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The scoring criteria emphasizes that projects for pedestrian and bicycle safety score more highly, Smith said. âProjects that have the potential to increase non-motorized trips and increase safety score most highly.â
Because the county is submitting three applications, Caltrans has requested that local leaders prioritize the applications.
First in the countyâs priority queue is the Town to Tract Bicycle lanes in Big Pine. Smith said this approximately $562,000 project will build a 1.7-mile bike lane on Reynolds and County roads from Myrtle Lane to U.S. Highway 395. He added that there is a sufficient right-of-way on the roads to accommodate the bike lane, which will improve safety for students traveling too and from school and the Big Pine housing tract.
The second project on the countyâs list is the Meadow Farms North Sidewalk. Coming in at just more than $2 million, the Meadow Farms project aims to build 0.23 miles of sidewalk on the north side of U.S. Highway 395 from Cherry Lane to Mahogany Smoked Meats. âHigh traffic and accident numbers in this area would make this project a strong contender,â the countyâs priority list states. Smith said that 100 percent of the project cost would be covered by ATP funds, and Inyo and Caltrans will be working with the Bishop Unified School District on the project.
The third project on the list is the Lone Pine South Sidewalk project, expected to cost just more than $2.2 million. The Lone Pine project is designed to build curb and sidewalk on just under a half mile of U.S. Highway 395 (Main Street) in Lone Pine from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power offices to Teya Road.
âThis project will provide a pedestrian and bicycle facility for local residents and visitors,â a Caltrans fact sheet on the project states. âIt will provide a continuous, well defined facility with improved access to the community and schools. The sidewalk will also give a visual clue to drivers approaching the community.â
Smith said the project applications are due by Wednesday, May 21, and will take about two months to process. If the applications are accepted, construction of each project should be complete by Summer 2018.