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Santa Maria releases plan for biking, pedestrian infrastructure, seeks public feedback
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Santa Maria releases plan for biking, pedestrian infrastructure, seeks public feedback

From the What you need to know for Wednesday, September 30 series

Santa Maria officials are moving forward with their plan for expanded bike and pedestrian access throughout the city with the August release of the 2020 Active Transportation Plan.

Now, members of the public are being asked to weigh in on the plan during the next month. 

The process of creating the Active Transportation Plan started in 2018 with the goal of increasing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure across Santa Maria, as well as providing safe school routes and ADA accessibility. 

City staff began by gathering community feedback and assessing infrastructure conditions, and compiling that data into a draft plan for the public to review. 

"The most important part of this is having the public engaged. We need them to show us where they think the problem areas are. Anybody who wants to ride their bike or currently rides their bike in Santa Maria already knows about these issues, and they should have a chance to give their feedback," said Public Works engineer Christopher Petro. 

The plan proposes increasing the existing 61 miles of biking infrastructure — including bike ways, crosswalks, shared-use paths and buffered bike lanes — for a total of 165 miles throughout the city.

The new infrastructure will be added along priority streets, including those known to be high-stress and high-collision areas. College, Main and Miller streets, along with Blosser Road and Broadway, were all listed as priority streets for the project. 

"It really does affect everyone in the city. We're trying to create low-stress corridors, so your average biker, walker can travel the city," Petro said. 

The plans for new additions are broken into 17 short-term bicycle projects and another 17 short-term pedestrian projects, costing up to $2 million each. 

A community survey in the plan showed that concerns about speed and volume of traffic, as well as drivers not yielding to pedestrians, were top barriers keeping pedestrians from walking to more locations. 

Similarly, too much traffic and concerns about personal safety were among the top barriers keeping residents from biking to more locations, according to survey results. 

The city is seeking local, state and federal funding opportunities for the project, such as those from Measure A, the Active Transportation Program, Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, and the Road Repair and Accountability Act, among others. 

The city is also working in partnership with Santa Barbara County, Caltrans and community members to develop the Active Transportation Plan, according to city officials. 

Community members can submit comments regarding the plan on the Active Santa Maria website through Oct. 23, as well as participate in a virtual town hall from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30. 

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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