Watsonville, Santa Cruz receive funds for pedestrian safety projects


WATSONVILLE — The cities of Watsonville and Santa Cruz will receive more than $1.5 million for pedestrian and bicycle safety projects, following approval Wednesday by the California Transportation Commission.

The City of Watsonville, in partnership with Pajaro Valley Unified School District, was awarded $633,000 for the Lincoln Street Safety Improvement Project. The project includes new pedestrian crosswalks, sidewalks and lighting between East Beach Street and Riverside Drive near Watsonville High School; bicycle racks, pavement markings and signage; and education programs that improve bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Over the past five years there have been 17 pedestrian and bicycle crashes within a two-block area of Lincoln Street, according to the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission.

“This grant application came together from a collaborative effort by Watsonville High School, neighborhood residents and the city. We look forward to using the Active Transportation Program grant to make these much-needed improvements,” said Assistant Public Works and Utilities Director Maria Esther Rodriguez.

The City of Santa Cruz was awarded $952,000 for the Riverwalk Lighting project. The project includes installation of LED pedestrian scale lighting between Water Street and Highway 1 on the east and west banks of the San Lorenzo River path.

Funding for these projects was made possible due to the Senate Bill 1, which was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year.

In addition to these active transportation projects, local jurisdictions throughout the county will be able to deliver more than $7 million in road repair and maintenance projects each year because of revenues from SB 1, according to the RTC.

Due to decades of funding shortfalls, nearly 40 percent of local roads in Santa Cruz County are in poor condition and need repairs.

In addition to local bicycle, pedestrian and road repair projects, the California Transportation Commission and California State Transportation Agency are preparing to award SB 1 funds by spring 2018 through competitive transportation grant programs to projects that improve California’s trade corridors, expand public transit systems, provide relief to congested commute corridors and more.

The RTC, Santa Cruz METRO, Caltrans and local jurisdictions have identified several possible candidate projects for these funds, including bus replacements and projects along congested local highways.

“SB1 will make significant improvements to our transportation infrastructure and our mobility options, while creating jobs and helping grow the local economy,” RTC Executive Director George Dondero said.


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