The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the recipients of $600 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER II) grants on October 19th and the East Bay Regional Park District’s (EBRPD) Green Transportation Initiative (GTI) was the only project in Northern California to make the cut. According to Doug Siden, President of the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors, this award marks the single largest competitive grant that the district has ever received. The project will receive $10.2 million and seeks to fill in seven crucial gaps in the pedestrian and bicycle trail system that covers Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
One of the key selection criteria for TIGER II grant was that the projects increase the region’s livability. GTI will accomplish this goal by completing final segments or “last mile” connections including those along the Bay Trail, the East Bay Greenway in Oakland, the Iron Horse Trail, and the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail in eastern Contra Costa County. All 200 miles of trails will be equipped with Class I separated bike paths, allowing bikers to ride from Brentwood to Union City and from Berkeley to Livermore. Park District General Manager Pat O’Brien explains:
“Filling these gaps will have a multiplier effect with much greater usage of the new trail segments and the corresponding transit options…A safe convenient connection means commuters are much more likely to take public transit, walk or bike as a commute alternative to driving, and that benefits everyone including commuters, transit agencies, and our environment.”
This is especially exciting news for Contra Costa County because the county is plagued by some of the most congested roadways in the country. With the East Bay’s population constantly increasing, filling in the missing links along these trails will make it easier and more realistic for people to bike or walk to work or school. This will be particularly beneficial in areas of Contra Costa County where previous deficiencies in infrastructure relegated residents to commuting by car. The project is also projected to create up to 500 new jobs in the region.
The TIGER II grant will provide GTI with approximately 25% of the program costs. The EBRPD will raise remaining funds with fundraising partners including the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee, and voter approved Measure AA and WW.
All of the projects that received TIGER II grants are expected to be completed by 2014.
A detailed project description can be found at: http://www.ebparks.org/planning/ebgti
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