The City of Riverside has obtained $38.5 million in state funding for a variety of transportation projects in the past week, most recently on Thursday, when the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced that Riverside will receive $22 million through the Port and Freight Infrastructure Program to complete the Third Street at the BNSF Railroad Grade Separation Project.
The City had previously been notified it would receive $15 million in federal Rail Crossing Elimination funds for the $74 million project in the northwest corner of downtown, just east of Highway 91. The project, which now is fully funded, will eliminate traffic delays and increase safety for trains, motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.
News of the $22 million from the State’s Department of Transportation comes about a week after the California Transportation Commission (CTC) notified the City it is receiving about $16.5 million in funding for three other projects, including improvements to the downtown Civil Rights Walk and two efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in the La Sierra neighborhoods.
That $16.5 million in 2023 Active Transportation Program funding was received after the City’s Public Works Department submitted grant applications. About 30 percent of the funding devoted to Riverside County in this round of ATP funding is directed to those three Riverside projects.
“We are working hard to bring state and federal resources home to Riverside,” Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said. “These projects will enhance the downtown experience while increasing safety at Third Street and on the west end.”
The Active Transportation Program projects include:
- Five Points Neighborhood Pedestrian Safety Improvements, which include five high-visibility crosswalks, the City’s first Pavement-to-Parks project, and 1.5 miles of sidewalk. The CTC funded $6,525,000 of the $7,416,000 cost.
- Riverside Civil Rights Walk, which calls for installing pavement markings and location markers to connect 17 points of historic interest over 3.4 miles; develop an app-based virtual tour and augmented reality (AR); build pedestrian crossing enhancements such as high-visibility crosswalks and LED edge-lit signs; and installation of ADA ramp improvements. The CTC approved the entire $3,216,000 cost of the project.
- Mitchell Avenue Side Path Gap Closure to promote walking and cycling, which involves the completion of a community trail between Campbell and Hole avenues. The CTC funded $6,756,000 of the $7,465,000 cost.
“The Civil Rights Walk on the Main Street Mall has drawn people to our downtown for years, and I look forward to these enhancements expanding that effort onto surrounding streets,” said Mayor Pro Tem Erin Edwards, who represents the downtown area. “This project will take the Civil Rights Walk to a new level.”
The state’s Active Transportation Program supports active modes of transportation by increasing the proportion of trips accomplished by biking and walking; increasing safety and mobility for non-motorized users; advancing the active transportation efforts of regional agencies to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals; enhancing public health; ensuring disadvantaged communities fully share in the benefits of the program; and providing projects to benefit many types of active transportation users.
Lock Dawson, Edwards and Council member Chuck Conder shepherded the projects through the Riverside County Transportation Commission and Southern California Association of Governments to make them eligible for CTC funding.
The funding comes two years after the City Council approved a comprehensive pedestrian safety, active transportation, complete streets, and trails planning effort known as the Riverside PACT.