Anzar High School students have a new route from their homes to campus available to them this year as the San Juan Highway Bike Lane project is completed. The bike lane connects Hwy. 129 near Hwy. 101 to downtown San Juan.
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“It was finished before the end of the year so it is definitely a 2012 accomplishment,” said Veronica Lezama, a transportation planner for the Council of San Benito County Governments. “It’s open now so it’s ready to go and students at Anzar High School can use the facility.”
The project was first conceived in 1996, Lezama said, and was included in the county’s bicycle and pedestrian master plan that was updated a few years back. The environmental work on the project was completed in 2004, with design completed in 2008. Construction started in 2011, when funding for the project came in.
“The bicycle transportation account was one of the major funding sources,” Lezama said, of the funding from the state’s Department of Transportation.
The year San Benito was awarded a grant for $705,000 the county received the second-highest allocation in the state behind Orange County.
“We were really happy to know we prepared a strong grant application,” Lezama said.
They also received funding from a Safe Routes to School grant as well as regional and local sources. COG and San Benito County partnered on the project, with the county overseeing construction of the bike lane. Originally expected to be completed in spring of 2013, the project finished a few months ahead of time.
Now that the bike path is open, Lezama said COG staff members have plans to visit Anzar High School in the next couple months to talk about bicycle safety and riding bikes on the new bike lane. She said they created a safety brochure to distribute in the community when they start the outreach process.
With a major component of the bicycle and pedestrian master plan completed, Lezama said the bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee will continue to meet to identify other projects in the master plan that are a priority. The master plan allows the county to apply for grant funding for projects.
“The projects are prioritized based on proximity to schools, parks, recreational areas – even near downtown in order to boost the local economy,” Lezama said. “As more people spend time outdoors most likely will spend money having lunch before the bike ride or after. We definitely see the connectivity between economic development and sustainable living.”
Lezama said the advisory committee is also looking forward to San Benito County’s River Parkway project as an opportunity to connect more of the community through bike lanes and pedestrian pathways. The River Parkway is expected to connect San Juan Bautista to the San Benito County Historical Park in Tres Pinos. The first reach that will be developed when funding is available is a stretch from Fourth Street to Hospital Road near downtown Hollister.
“We are definitely looking forward to that particular project in the future,” Lezama said.
Check back for project cost totals.