Supervisors approve active transportation plan

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the 2022 Active Transportation Plan, a 200-page document that outlines dozens of projects to increase the county’s bike and walking path system.

“The vision is to create a network of cycling and walking routes that connect major destinations in the county and are safe, comfortable and accessible for community members of all ages, backgrounds and abilities,” said lead civil engineer Russell Chen.

The plan includes hundreds of proposed projects in urbanized areas of unincorporated Santa Cruz County that have the highest density of residents and destinations, including Davenport, Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Felton, Live Oak, Soquel, Aptos, Rio Del Mar, La Selva Beach, Corralitos and Amesti.

But since many projects are unfunded, the document essentially serves as a wish list for county officials looking to improve transportation options.

It was created with input from almost 5,000 people, with surveys showing that 86% of respondents want to walk and cycle more, but have been discouraged from doing so by missing sidewalks and aggressive drivers and speeders. .

Central to the plan’s planning process were two temporary “demonstration projects” for community feedback.

This includes a separate path on Green Valley Road between Amesti Road and Pinto Lake City Park, which was chosen for the high number of pedestrian and bicycle collisions.

This project garnered public support, and county officials have since secured a $5 million grant for Clean California to create a 10-foot-wide, two-mile permanent path, complete with landscaping and upgrades to bus stops, said Amelia Conlin, transportation planner at Ecological Action.

“That’s exactly what we hope to see with this type of project,” she said. “We want to demonstrate that it works and has community support and move forward with grant applications.”

A second demonstration project on Portola Drive between 36th and 41st avenues – which changed the road from two lanes in each direction to one lane and added bike lanes – did not work as well, with community members complaining the slowing down of movements. As a result, the road reverted to four lanes, with improved cycle lanes.

Projects in the plan were chosen through a scoring system that considered, among other criteria, safety concerns, cost, and whether they add to the existing trail network. They include a shared-use trail through CEMEX property in Davenport, a multi-use trail in Scotts Valley on Graham Hill Road, from the Santa Cruz city limits to Park Avenue, a bike path on Spreckels Drive in Aptos, and a multi-use trail on West Beach Road in Watsonville from the city limits to Rio Boca Road.

Funding for the project included $450,000 from a Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant and $58,500 in local matching.

The plan is adopted unanimously.

“It’s really something we desperately need, and it’s a good footprint to get us started somewhere,” supervisor Bruce McPherson said.

Supervisor Zach Friend said the projects are important in Santa Cruz County, which he says has one of the highest incidents of vehicle-pedestrian and cyclist collisions in the state.

The plan, he said, positions the county for more state funding to complete the projects.

“This is the first step in future improvements that will eliminate this issue within our community from a security perspective,” he said. “It’s not just about giving people an alternative means of transport. It also offers them a safe method to use these means of transport. »

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