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092018 Transportation plan .jpg

Nash Mendoza rides on the sidewalk in the 200 block of South College Drive. "I ride where I feel like it is safe to ride," using sidewalks and streets with less traffic to avoid cars and trucks, he says.

In a bid to bolster the city’s alternative transportation options, Santa Maria is moving forward with a plan to develop an interconnected bike and pedestrian network throughout the city.

On Tuesday, the city put out a request for proposal seeking a consultant to help develop a written blueprint called the Santa Maria Active Transportation Plan (ATP).

The plan will be put together after examining the city’s needs and gathering public input to map out a comprehensive citywide web of interconnected pedestrian and bike paths, said principal civil engineer Rodger Olds.

A Caltrans grant for $296,700 will pay for most of the blueprint while the city contributes a local match of $48,300 for a total cost of $345,000. The city’s contribution will come from Measure A funds, he said.

The city’s deadline for proposals is Oct. 19 and the goal is to select a consultant by mid-November. Work on the blueprint is tentatively expected to begin sometime in January and is anticipated to take a year.

“We’re advertising to some nationwide firms — we’re really reaching out to try to get a really solid firm that does this often,” Olds said.

The city should expect several workshops seeking public input, he said.

“There’s going to be a really robust public outreach with putting this document together.”

While the Bikeway Master Plan — which was adopted by the City Council in 2009 — will serve as a starting point, Olds said the ATP will include and expand upon the Bikeway Master Plan, and works to incorporate the needs of pedestrians and the disabled.

“The true benefit is it's going to make Santa Maria a town that’s easier to get around in,” he said. “It’s not just going to be a car-oriented transportation system. We want people to ride their bikes and feel comfortable riding their bikes. We want people to be able to walk on sidewalks safely. We want someone bound to a wheelchair to be able to get from one location to another.”

Another benefit of developing the plan is that it will make Santa Maria a more competitive grant applicant as it seeks state and federal funds in the future, Olds said.

“It really plays well in a grant application to say, ‘Hey, we’ve done the front-end work and we know what the needs of our community are’.”

The goal is to develop a list of projects for the city that can be prioritized by need, Olds said, adding that having that list will help the city spend more efficiently on capital projects.

“As we develop our capital program, we can focus our capital program on meeting the needs of the community because we’ve already studied it.”

In addition to development of the ATP, the city is looking to extend some of the existing bike routes by the end of the year.

In the more immediate future, the city plans to take advantage of recently completed roadwork to create more bike lanes.

“We’re adding bike lanes next week,” Olds said, noting that striping would be added to Miller Street from Oak Street to Broadway and on Suey Road from Main to Jones streets, among other places.

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed


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