Yolo County has been awarded a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Transportation planning grant to fund the development of a bicycle and pedestrian trail network connecting communities within the county to each other.
Priority projects identified in the grant application include a bicycle/pedestrian trail between Davis and Woodland; completing the trail between Davis and Winters; and connecting West Sacramento and Clarksburg.
The grant awarded to the Yolo County Transportation District is the second received from the Department of Transportation this year.
Back in June, YCTD was awarded an $86 million grant for improving Interstate 80 through Davis and across the causeway.
Speaking of the trail network grant during a joint meeting of city and county officials on Wednesday, Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor said, “this is a very unique opportunity for us.”
The plan for the grant, according to YCTD executive director Autumn Bernstein, “is to essentially build upon the existing network of multi-use trails to help address barriers to mobility and create connections to jobs and transit, particularly for some of the more isolated communities in our county.”
Safety is a key component.
“We have an extremely high rate of bicycle/pedestrian collisions … around our rural roads,” Bernstein said. “You have high-speed traffic going 50, 60 miles an hour with just a three-foot bicycle lane on the side. It’s just a recipe for, unfortunately, a lot of accidents.”
In fact, she said, “between 2015 and 2019, there were 218 collisions involving pedestrians with 30 fatalities in Yolo County and 515 collisions involving bicycles with five fatalities.”
With the $1.2 million grant in hand, the YCTD is now embarking on a three-part process.
First, Bernstein said, there will be an existing-conditions analysis with robust community engagement, “looking at the entire county, including some of our more rural isolated communities and identifying where the greatest needs are for trails connecting communities to one another.”
Next will come development of a countywide trails plan that would identify the priority trail segments.
“And then design and engineering of up to three priority trail segments,” Bernstein said. “That gets us to the point where we can actually apply for funds to build those projects.”
In addition to the segments between Davis and Winters; Davis and Woodland; and West Sacramento and Clarksburg, another priority segment identified in the grant application is between Davis and West Sacramento, something that could also be funded via the larger grant received by the transportation district.
“Those are the four segments that have been identified preliminarily as priorities but, again, the first step is to build a countywide trails plan and to do that kind of robust existing-conditions analysis to then help inform and refine those priorities,” Bernstein said.
With federal infrastructure funds expected to roll out pretty quickly, Bernstein added that, “our hope would be to advance one or two of these priority trail segments as quickly as possible so we can go and apply for funding to actually get them constructed during this current administration in the next couple of years.
“This is all fairly new and we have a lot of work to do to roll it out,” she noted.
Davis Mayor Gloria Partida called the plan “really exciting.”
“Those segments are actually the ones on my mind,” she said. “Especially as you’re going over the 505 into Winters, that’s always been in need of safety and connection. So I’m really pleased to hear that.
“And, of course, getting people from Davis to Woodland has become much needed with so many people moving out to ‘north North Davis,’ (also known as Spring Lake in Woodland).”
In awarding the grant, the Department of Transportation said it will fund “the development of an active transportation network plan, based on community outreach, prioritization of underserved communities and areas of persistent poverty, and an assessment of e-bike and scooter charging feasibility.”
The grant will provide conceptual design plan and cost estimates for the full trail network, along with full design and engineering for the highest priority segments.
“The project area currently lacks safe routes for many non-motorized users, with narrow shoulders, obstacles, and lack of dedicated pedestrian infrastructure common,” the department noted in awarding the grant, adding that “safety will be an important consideration in designing the network.”
Additionally, the network design “will factor in travel demand data to attract new users who might otherwise drive single occupancy vehicles, increasing environmental sustainability.
“Finally, the project will address equity by focusing on historically underserved areas and engaging with local communities, improving quality of life.”
The Yolo County Transportation District is one of 27 jurisdictions nationwide to receive one of the planning grants and the only one in California.