While the lion's share of the funding — $5.3 million — was earmarked for extending the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network, colloquially known as the Rail Trail, in the Santa Cruz and Watsonville areas, nearly $1.2 million was designated for road improvements in the Bonny Doon, Scotts Valley, and San Lorenzo Valley areas.
“They're mostly road improvement projects,” said Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works Director John Presleigh. “Most of (the money) is just for pure resurfacing.”
Presleigh, whose department is in charge of roads in the unincorporated areas of the county, said that the funding awarded was less than 80 percent of what he'd requested, and could only be used to maintain roadways that were used as main thoroughfares.
“We can only put it on the big, Federal aid routes,” he said. “We need to do more of this — much more. Every one of these roads is important to do.”
The projects receiving funds in the unincorporated areas of the county mostly call for asphalt resurfacing and include:
- $423,000 for a chip seal on a 2¼-mile section of Bear Creek Road in Boulder Creek, between Mile 4.75 and Mile 7.
- $225,000 for a chip seal on Mount Hermon Road, from the intersection with Graham Hill Road in Felton, to Locatelli Lane, just outside the Scotts Valley city limits.
- $187,000 for a chip seal along a 3/4-mile section of Empire Grade Road in Bonny Doon near Heller Drive.
In Scotts Valley, $346,000 was awarded to the city for a project that will reshape the intersection of Mount Hermon Road, Scotts Valley Drive and Whispering Pines Drive.
According to Majid Yamin, a civil engineer with the Scotts Valley Department of Public Works, the project calls for the addition of a second left-turn lane from Mount Hermon Road onto Whispering Pines Drive.
Creating space for the additional lane, he said, will require the reduction and narrowing of the existing, five-foot median, as well as the slight widening of Mount Hermon Road near the 76 station.
Yamin said that the project also calls for resurfacing the roadways near the intersection, as well as creating “more pronounced and obvious” crosswalks and bicycle lanes.
Finally, he said, the traffic signals will be recalibrated to allow simultaneous left turns by vehicles at opposing stoplights.
The money awarded by the RTC for the project will augment city and state monies already earmarked for the project, which Yamin said was likely to begin in mid-2014.
The Regional Transportation Commission serves as the state-designated Regional Transportation Planning Agency for Santa Cruz County. Part of the commission's responsibilities is to choose projects to receive state and federal funds.
Karena Pushnik, Senior Transportation Planner with the RTC, said that the commission received numerous applications for funding, and those selected were done so on the merit that included volume of usage, environmental impact, and equal distribution throughout the county.
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