Saturday, October 10 , 2015, 9:57 am | Fair 77º

Santa Barbara Gets $8.6 Million to Fund Eastside, Las Positas Biking and Walking Projects

By Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @JECMolina |

The State of California has awarded the City of Santa Barbara $8.6 million to fund biking and walking transportation projects on Santa Barbara's Eastside and in the Las Positas Valley

"Funding transportation projects is increasingly difficult as people drive less and gas tax revenues reduce over time with inflation," Rob Dayton, the city's principal transportation planner, told Noozhawk. "This grant, though small in comparison to the need, is huge for Santa Barbara, and particularly for Lower Eastside residents."

The California Transportation Commission awarded the funds through the state's Active Transportation Program, which is designed to fund projects that do the following:

» Increase biking and walking trips

» Increase pedestrian and bicycle safety

» Reduce greenhouse gases

» Improve public health

» Help disadvantaged, minority and low-income communities

Santa Barbara has long pursued alternative transportation projects designed to encourage residents to use their automobiles less and pursue walking, bicycling and bussing.

The city is also currently engaged in a bicycle master plan project, intended to increase bicycle options and improve safety in the city. 

The city received $1.1 million for the installation of sidewalks and lighting on lower Milpas Street and Calle Puerto Vallarta. New sidewalks will connect Milpas Street from the train tracks to the beach.

The city also received $3.4 million to use some of the money for sidewalks as part of the Montecito Street Bridge Replacement project. 

In addition, the city plans to spend $2.7 million for lighting as well as pedestrian and bicycle bridges on Cacique and Soledad streets, over Sycamore Creek. 

Finally, $1.4 million will go toward the Las Positas Road Pathway. The pathway would extend from Cliff Drive north to Modoc Road along Las Positas Road and west along Modoc Road, connecting to the Obern trail. The total cost of that project would be about $15 million.

“We are delighted with the outcome,” Public Works Director Rebecca Bjork said. “With increasingly fewer resources available, grant opportunities such as this are critical to making community transportation projects possible.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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