Walkers and cyclists in Stockton received some great news last week as the state announced grants for several active transportation projects in the city. Last Wednesday, the California Transportation Commission announced the winning bids for the state’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) which provides funding to projects that promote walking, biking and other forms of active transportation. Stockton came away as a big winner, securing money for four specific projects to enhance walking and biking infrastructure.
In all, the city received around $3.1 million. Stockton was the only municipality in the region to receive any money. The projects are:
Bicycle Master Plan Update ($550,000): The city has finally secured money to update the bike master plan which has been much derided by local bike advocates as inadequate and not reflective of the realities cyclists face on the ground. With the new grant money, the city has an opportunity to reprioritize biking in a city that is seemingly perfect for it: temperate climate, flat roads and many individuals for whom biking is their only means of transportation.
Fremont Square Sidewalk Rehabilitation ($728,000): Fremont Park has seen dramatic change of the past year, transforming from a gang-infested city block into a playground for school children. From the removal of benches to the installation of work out equipment by Leadership Stockton, the park has been reclaimed for use by neighboring businesses and community members alike.
Thanks to this ATP award from the state, the city will rebuild the existing sidewalk using recycled material to create a rubberized track. The grant will also fund the installation of bike racks and turf restoration in some areas.
Safe Routes to School ($350,000): In addition to a city-wide bike master plan, Stockton now also has funds to implement a Safe Routes to School plan to create environments where children are safe to walk and bike to school. In 1969, about 50 percent of kids biked or walked to school in the US. Today, that numbers has fallen to just 13 percent. In Stockton, dozens of schools have been built in neighborhoods that are almost exclusively accessed via automobile. With money to fund a new plan, the city can develop a strategies to give parents options to get their kids to school. In the end, this saves time and money for parents and encourages more physical activity in children which not only leads to healthier kids, but also smarter ones. Several studies show that exercise in the morning leads to better concentration during the day for children.
San Joaquin Trail ($1,394,000): The largest award went to South Stockton for the rehabilitation of a bike and pedestrian path in Weston Ranch. Currently, this five acre area is besieged by cracks, overgrown weeds and is generally not very inviting to residents. But thanks to $1.4 million in ATP funds, Weston Ranch residents will enjoy a newly surfaced walk and bikeway, bike racks and upgraded tables and benches along the path. These investments are long overdue in a community that is often passed over for these types of projects.
ATP funds will be distributed at the beginning of the calendar year. Projects that did not receive funding at the state ATP program level are still eligible for about $3 million from SJCOG.