Bumpy streets without the safety of sidewalks are a persistent complaint among Heber residents but some relief is coming thanks to the Imperial County Transportation Commission.
The commission voted 9-0 on Jan. 23 to fund rehabilitation of Heffernan Avenue from 10th to 14th streets. The $642,000 project will be funded as part of Imperial County’s share of the Active Transportation Projects for bicycle-pedestrian ventures from the Southern California Association of Governments.
Another $198,000 was awarded for Calexico’s First Street promenade with access to the Border Friendship Park. That project is budgeted at $225,000 but commission Executive Director Mark Baza speculated SCAG is likely to pick up the difference to fully fund the project.
“Heffernan Ave. will probably get funding in late 2019 and construction can start at the beginning of 2020,” said Baza. “As for Calexico’s First Street promenade, I’m not sure when the funding will come through.”
The work on Heffernan Ave. will include adding sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
Work on the First St. promenade will include closing off auto traffic on Rockwood Avenue between First and Second streets, planting trees, and adding a grassy knoll and benches to beautify it to attract visitors.
SCAG made the $840,000 available for Imperial County and its seven incorporated cities whose proposed projects lost out on statewide bids in July for bicycle/pedestrian projects but were reconsidered at the regional level, Baza explained. Six projects vied for the funding and while each fit the criteria Baza noted the funded projects earned additional points by establishing community needs.
“The projects most favored are those which improve mobility (crosswalks and sidewalks), safety, public health or projects that are in a disadvantaged community,” said Baza. “Many of our communities fall into the latter category. Also, plans that take in account safety concerns, signage for, or alerting motorists to, bicyclists and pedestrians.”
The five finalists that lost out were Imperial County’s Heffernan Avenue from 6th to 11th streets in Heber, Calipatria’s nonmotorized safety project, Imperial County’s Heber Avenue from 10th Street to Fawcett Road, Calexico’s New River Parkway and Imperial County’s Orchard Road bike lane from Interstate 8 to Holtville city limits. All were well above the funding available.