Sunday, September 14, 2014

Central Valley misses out on TIGER grants, again

On Friday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the 2014 winners of the TIGER grant program. That program is handing out $600 million to 72 transportation projects.

California won some awards, but nothing for the Central Valley.

 photo tiger_zpse97398ae.png
-Off topic - The placement of Puerto Rico on that map is very poor...

Anyway, as reported by Streetsblog, the program is quite competitive, with 797 applications and only 72 winners. In that context losing isn't that much of a surprise...

Except that this is year 6. That's six chances to win grants. How has the Central Valley fared?

Transportation For America has put together a cool map showing the winners for all 6 years. The Central Valley gets one dot.

 photo tiger2_zps71ea16bb.png
The marker, in Fresno, is funding to remove the Fulton Mall, money which the city won last year. That's right, six years of grants, and the only Central Valley proposal to win money is the project that actually destroys a transportation asset.

That's quite the track record.

I wasn't able to find the list of 2014 grants submitted by Central Valley cities, but the numbers from 2013 are quite telling as to what planners in the Central Valley strive for.

In 2013, Bakersfield submitted two applications...for highway construction. Yeah, that highway.

Reedley submitted an application for a "Central Valley Transportation Center". Sounds exciting right? It's a planned fueling station and car-wash for school buses.

Merced County applied for funding to build a bypass around Los Banos. You know, the city that has an economy based around drivers stopping to eat and get gas, the county wants to route driver away from that. 

Tulare applied for a highway interchange.

You get the point, and the other (losing) Central Valley applications weren't much better.

What kind of projects DO win?

From LA:

The Eastside Access Improvements project will upgrade the streetscape, including street furniture, lighting, planting, and storm parkways, pedestrian facilities, including crosswalks and sidewalks, and bicycle facilities, including walk-bike esplanade, Class I and II bicycle lanes, cycle tracks, within a one-mile radius of the 1st/Central Station of the Regional Connector rail line, set to open for service in 2020 in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles.

 The Central Phoenix Multi-Modal Transportation Improvements project will conduct an environmental assessment and conceptual engineering for the South Central Transit Corridor, a 5-mile light rail line operating on Central Avenue between downtown Phoenix and Baseline Road that the Phoenix City Council identified as the locally preferred alternative for high-capacity transit service in fall 2013.


The BRT Project will construct the 3.6 mile 4th Street/Prater Way RAPID Transit BRT Project, running east-west between Reno and Sparks, NV. The project may also include upgraded electric buses and additional electric charging infrastructure, as well as construct accessible sidewalks and bike lanes.

It's no surprise that the Central Valley keeps missing out on funds - you can't apply for grants on projects that don't exist. With no planning to improve transit, there can be no applications. Without applications, there can't be free money.

Now, you might be reminded of the Fresno BRT project. That one did get federal funds, under a different program (Small Starts). $38 million in free federal monies actually. And then the city council said "lol, no thanks."

The same city council that just last month turned down $1 million in free money to make plans for the High Speed Rail station.

With this attitude of governance, and a planning system that continues to focus on only highways, I wouldn't expect any wins next year, or the one after - except for maybe a freight rail project.

Meanwhile, more forward-thinking cities will continue to reap the rewards, and continue leaving the Central Valley in the dust. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Barstow near Fresno State to get bike lanes

A critical east-west connection in Fresno will be getting bike lanes in the near future, as Fresno State received a grant that will help fund construction.

The following map shows Fresno State and existing the bike infrastructure. Barstow is the only east-west route, as Shaw has been designed to be very dangerous for bicycles. The A-B line is the rough extent of phase 1.

 photo bikeways2_zps3ce300bb.png

Back in August, the state released the list of projects to be funded under the Active Transportation Program for 2014.

Here's what Streetsblog wrote:

Under the ATP, the CTC is preparing to distribute $221 million for projects and programs in two categories: a statewide competition and a separate competition for small rural and urban projects. A third category of funds will be distributed later this year through the state’s largest Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) (more on that below).

The $221 million for the first two categories will be matched by another $207 million in local matching funds, yielding a total of $426 million in bike and pedestrian projects that will get the green light in the first two-year funding round. The 145 successful applications include 124 statewide projects [PDF] and 21 small rural and urban projects [PDF].
Here are the types of projects that would be funded:
  • $57 million in bike projects and plans
  • $119 million for 91 Safe Routes to Schools grants, 81 in the statewide category and 13 in small urban/rural category. Of the 91, 53 include non-infrastructure programs
  • 110 of the projects ($189 million worth) directly benefit disadvantaged communities at least partially
Streetsblog LA

The program was created in 2013.

The Fresno area projects that received money were:

  • Barstow Avenue Bikeways, requested by CSU Fresno, for a $875,000 grant out of $2,075,000 project cost.
  • Active Transportation Plan, requested by Fresno COG, for a $150,000 grant 
Project list (large PDF)

The project had received funding in the past. Now, if you're wondering why bike lanes cost over $2 million, this January 2013 (PDF) document explains it. The funding in this document is about an earlier grant.

 photo bikeways1_zps51665c0c.png

Sadly, this means another road widening project. It seems like even with a bike project, the administrators are eager to throw in auto-oriented costs, such as adding a right turn lane.

Today, Barstow looks like this. Cyclists use the very narrow shoulder, shared with pedestrians.

 photo bikeways3_zps4a8f70e6.png

Some sections, where the roadway is wider, have bike lanes, which are narrow and very faded

 photo bikeways4_zps431f8fa2.png

This would be a fantastic opportunity to design real bicycle infrastructure, that will get more students biking, like a two-way cycle track. However, that seems unlikely. Instead, it seems like the project will just widen the road to add standard painted bike lanes - and with the widening, encourage drivers to drive faster.

Fresno State does a poor job of encouraging transportation outside of driving. Last month, I posted about the Campus Pointe development, which has very poor pedestrian and bicycle connectivity.

The university attitude towards cycling is made obvious on their website, which is really sad.

Behold the "Campus Bike Program"

 photo bikeways5_zps7d814668.png
Absolutely no useful information. Really, that's it.

The link on the left to community routes? If you expected maps showing the best ways to and on campus...well that was hopeful thinking. Instead, they link to county maps from 2007, which gives a good idea of the last time that page was looked at.

Bike lanes coming to Barstow is great news, and it's nice to see the university push for them. However, it's a shame that the project seems to be doing the bare minimum, and the transportation focus for the university continues to be on parking. One of the justifications for the project is to minimize traffic impacts from a new parking garage (???).

Monday, August 25, 2014

A picture review of the latest from GV Urban

So I took these pictures back in May. And this is how long it's taken me to finally get around to this post... Better late than never right? I hope you enjoy.

I'll start with the Crichton Place project, built on L and San Joaquin. I last posted about these in January, when they were still wooden frames.These pictures were taken shortly before they opened at the end of June. Obviously, they have landscaping now.

We start off here, not too much to say, aside from the standard too-narrow sidewalk.

 photo DSC09859_zps7025a1a7.jpg

 photo DSC09860_zps82407879.jpg

Not my favorite color scheme, but Fresno seems to love it.

 photo DSC09861_zps913a2924.jpg

Moving back a second, this is the property off frame in the first photo

I believe GV owns this?

 photo DSC09857_zpscbc2fe19.jpg

Across the road, the colors look a little better

 photo DSC09862_zps3c9b99c8.jpg

It makes a streetwall, but where are the trees?

 photo DSC09858_zps685a0e2d.jpg

Across the street, unsure what's going on here

 photo DSC09863_zps669c1cc1.jpg

 photo DSC09864_zps32145e95.jpg

Spacing between buildings

 photo DSC09866_zps05f076f9.jpg

 photo DSC09865_zpseb747d0c.jpg

I was curious if this beauty would remain...

 photo DSC09867_zps152947f4.jpg

A look at their Facebook page reveals that the lighting was indeed replaced with the historic crap.  Why crap? This design shines light into the sky, and into bedrooms, rather than onto the sidewalk and street where it's needed.

 photo 11277_670024129743072_641127700294790123_n_zpsb8e104a5.jpg

 photo DSC09879_zps0148bdd3.jpg

Installed directly in the way of course

 photo DSC09878_zps09dc3ad1.jpg

Ending the block...

 photo DSC09868_zps667e0bb6.jpg

 photo DSC09870_zpsa08d5d33.jpg

 photo DSC09871_zps208d39be.jpg

We go around the corner and find the entrance to cars land

 photo DSC09872_zps2af9b7d2.jpg

 photo DSC09873_zpsbadf81a6.jpg

 photo DSC09874_zpsff3008c8.jpg

These guys came to see what all the point and shooting was about. I'm thankful that they didn't actually say anything. They're well within their right to come and look at me, and I'm glad they were apparently trained to not harass people not on the property. Good job guys.

 photo DSC09875_zps68f2637f.jpg

Anyway, looking towards the end

  photo DSC09876_zpsb8c0dece.jpg

 photo DSC09880_zps9443cad5.jpg

And looking back. Note the change in sidewalk again.

 photo DSC09882_zps27ccd8d0.jpg

And across the street.

 photo DSC09885_zps45a02d4a.jpg

 photo DSC09886_zps1f688d3c.jpg


Now we head over to 1612 Fulton, which has been done for quite some time, but I last took pictures in June of 2013, also right before it opened. Here's what a year of activity looks like.

 photo DSC09889_zpsce2783d7.jpg

 photo DSC09888_zps567cfc25.jpg

Somehow the city managed to never stripe a crosswalk here, and actually make the stop line placement worse.

 photo DSC09890_zps8000427b.jpg

 photo DSC09891_zps28844687.jpg

Good job city.

 photo DSC09893_zpsdd574afd.jpg

Surprised they actually managed to lease retail space

 photo DSC09894_zpsed324e9a.jpg

 photo DSC09901_zps498b2fbc.jpg

And the biggest absolute failure in the entire GV Urban catalog

 photo DSC09892_zps18769fe3.jpg

 photo DSC09895_zps752479c1.jpg

 photo DSC09896_zps3237bd10.jpg

It was obvious this was going to happen. And the city allowed this crap.

 photo DSC09898_zps3d25c536.jpg

And this is the alley GV Urban couldn't be bothered to use for access

 photo DSC09899_zpsdded3baa.jpg

Anyway, moving back to the front, the Fulton frontage is quite nice. Balconies add a cool effect, and look, trees

 photo DSC09900_zpsaf065d5c.jpg

 photo DSC09903_zps9495c472.jpg

 photo DSC09904_zps81168813.jpg


Anyway, GV has another project, on Broadway. Back in May it looked like this.

 photo DSC09906_zps2e14fbbc.jpg

According to their Facebook page, it now looks like this, and will be called "Brio on Broadway"

 photo 10353638_674550292623789_4905035879300787960_n_zpsb198c19c.jpg

....So that shouldn't have taken so long to post. But now it's been posted! Yay.