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.

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-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.

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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.

Phoenix:
 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.

Reno:

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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"

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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.

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

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

I believe GV owns this?

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Across the road, the colors look a little better

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It makes a streetwall, but where are the trees?

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Across the street, unsure what's going on here

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Spacing between buildings

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I was curious if this beauty would remain...

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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.

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Installed directly in the way of course

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Ending the block...

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

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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.

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Anyway, looking towards the end


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And looking back. Note the change in sidewalk again.

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And across the street.

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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.

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

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Good job city.

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Surprised they actually managed to lease retail space

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And the biggest absolute failure in the entire GV Urban catalog

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

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

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

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

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

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