California Transportation Commission Adopts More ATP Projects

The Gilman Street I-80 Interchange was awarded ATP funds for a bridge that take pedestrians and bicyclists out of the picture. Image: Build alternative from  the Gilman/I-80 interchange project website.
The Gilman Street I-80 Interchange was awarded ATP funds for a bridge that take pedestrians and bicyclists out of the picture. Image: Build alternative from the Gilman/I-80 interchange project website.

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At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, the California Transportation Commission funded a few more Active Transportation Program projects. Twenty-two projects that had already been awarded money were moved forward to begin receiving funds to start work either this year or next. In addition, 24 projects that had previously applied, but not been awarded any money because of lack of funding, were approved for funding.

This ATP augmentation was made possible by the newly increased state gas tax, which added $100 million annually to the Active Transportation Program. ATP remains a tiny portion of the overall state transportation budget, and it’s supposed to do many things:

  • Increase the proportion of biking and walking trips
  • Increase mobility and safety for people who aren’t in vehicles
  • Help achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals
  • Enhance public health by increasing access to active modes of transportation
  • Ensure disadvantaged communities fully share in program benefits
  • Provide a broad spectrum of projects to benefit many types of active transportation users

The 24 new projects requested $32 million in ATP funds toward overall project budgets totaling over $95 million. About a third of the money will fund Safe Routes to Schools projects, and 97 percent of the funds will benefit disadvantaged communities, according to the way the ATP program measures those benefits.

These projects were submitted by the large Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Other projects have already been adopted in the statewide competition and among rural and small urban areas, which compete on their own. Projects that weren’t chosen in the statewide competition were eligible to compete in this regional submission.

Projects were approved in the Fresno, Bay Area, Sacramento, San Diego, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare regions. Projects in the Kern, Southern California, and Tahoe regions will be considered at the January commission meeting. All told, the MPO component will receive about forty percent of this round’s available funding, or about $76.8 million.

The commission notes that adopting these projects is not authorization to begin work on a project; contracts may not be awarded nor work begun until money is allocated to the individual project by the commission.

Commission staff included the sample list of some of the projects that were approved below. The full list will be available at the CTC website soon (this post will be updated when it’s available):

  • Fresno County will install sidewalks and curb ramps in Biola.
  • Alameda County Transportation Commission was awarded funds for planned improvements to the I-80/Gilman interchange project, where a double roundabout has been proposed to solve a tricky intersection, and planners have suggested putting pedestrians and bicyclists on an overcrossing.
  • Sacramento County was awarded funds for bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Howe Avenue, including a half mile of bike lanes and new sidewalk, and modification of two intersections, including bike traffic signals.
  • In San Diego, the city of Vista will get a connection between the Inland Rail trail and the Civic Center rail station, including improvements like lighting and benches.
  • San Joaquin County will construct sidewalks, bike paths, and curb ramps to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to Elmwood Elementary School.
  • Stanislaus County will get money for sidewalk improvements, bike lanes, and improved pedestrian crossings along the Morgan Road corridor in the city of Ceres.
  • In Tulare County, the city of Visalia will build a multi-use trail connecting to the Visalia Greenway Belt Trail.

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  • Melanie Curry

    Well put. Despite the hard work that’s gone into finding ways to fairly define good projects that improve conditions for bikes and pedestrians, we still end up funding “compromises”–where vehicular traffic wins/bikes and peds are second-class–like this.

  • That image is just spectacular, it could be a joke given the positioning of the ramp ALONG the sports fields (plural) showing just how far out of the way pedestrians are forced to walk.

  • thielges

    Yes, the extra height is the reason I thought the “straight” approach would be more expensive. Even though people have to climb higher on the straight approach, the dramatically reduced distance makes up for it. Even better would be to find a solution that crosses at grade, probably requiring calming the Gilman-80 interchange.

    “U” shaped POCs are even deployed when there’s no height benefit. Here’s the Borregas/237 POC over 101. While this POC is indeed an improvement, allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to avoid the Mathilda-101-237 “Meat Grinder”, it could have been done better for not much more money.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@37.4043742,-122.0198064,245m/data=!3m1!1e3

  • Prinzrob

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with the area or not, but Gilman Street at I-80 is an underpass with the freeway raised above it, whereas the freeway runs at surface level just south of there. The U-shaped alignment is mostly to run the bike/ped bridge across the area where I-80 is at surface level, as opposed to where it is raised. A straight shot would require more climbing and a longer approach for people biking and walking, likely with the landings several blocks away.

    That said, you are right that the whole idea of the overcrossing isn’t bike/ped oriented. The nearby bike/ped bridge south of University Ave was a much better idea as the roadway is already an overcrossing of the freeway there, so people biking and walking would have to climb over the freeway regardless of whether they were on the street or the bridge. However, here at Gilman Street the proposal is to replace a surface level crossing, with sidewalks on both sides of Gilman, with an elevated bridge and longer detour, with only a surface level crossing on the south side.

    In my opinion this whole roundabout project should be scrapped, or at least kept entirely at surface level with signalized bike/ped crossings of the on/off ramps, as such an interchange would be handled in the Netherlands. But the primary goal here is to move car traffic on and off the freeway faster, not to facilitate convenient and safe crossings for people biking and walking. Since this project has been in the works for several decades and is now fully funded, though, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to stop this bad idea at this stage.

  • Vooch

    agreed – these are ANTI active transportation

  • thielges

    Regarding the example Gilman St. project in the lead photo: these “U” shaped pedestrian overcrossings are not ideal. The long quarter mile detour they create turns what would be a one minute walking leg into eight minutes, discouraging walking.

    If an expensive aerial crossing is built, why not straighten it out and align it along the Gilman Street axis instead? While that might be a more expensive option, it is also more valuable for the majority of bike/pedestrian traffic which is also aligned along Gilman Street.

    As designed in the U shape its purpose seems to be mostly to get cyclists and pedestrians out of the way of motor traffic. The level of service for self-propelled residents goes down due to the long detour. Hence this is not an ATP project and instead a project designed to improve motorist LOS. It should not be funded from monies earmarked for active transportation.

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