Active Transportation Program (ATP) Project
The Active Transportation Program (ATP) Grant Program consolidates various federal and state transportation programs, including the Transportation Alternatives Program, Bicycle Transportation Account, and State Safe Routes to School, into a single program with a focus to make California a national leader in active transportation. The ATP encourages active modes of transportation, such as biking and walking, with additional goals including greenhouse gas reductions, ensuring disadvantaged communities fully share in the benefits of the program, and reductions in childhood obesity, etc. On May 26, 2015 the City Council adopted a resolution to file an ATP grant application for pedestrian and bike improvements on Ojai Avenue and Maricopa Highway, supporting the project utilizing a previously awarded Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant for matching funds. The grant application was successful, resulting in $2.3 million in ATP funds, combined with $500,000 in CMAQ matching funds for a total project of $2.8 million. Ojai was the first to be awarded an ATP grant of this magnitude in Ventura County.
This is a unique grant process, as the ATP and CMAQ funds involve a combination of State and Federal funding which is jointly administered by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) and Caltrans, requiring overlapping reviews and approvals from both agencies including CEQA and NEPA environmental clearance. This created significant delays, as Caltrans was contracted by FHWA to provide NEPA review related to the Federal funds, but the agreement ended in the midst of the environmental review, and too some time to renew. Additionally, there were historical and cultural resource reviews undertaken. Since this project occurs primarily on Caltrans right of way, Caltrans is acting as the lead agency on the environmental review.
The concept design includes the following primary features on Ojai Avenue and Maricopa Highway. There have been revisions and alternates to the initial concept based on comments received during the initial outreach effort to the business community, utility companies/agencies, the Ojai Unified School District, Police/Fire departments, the Complete Streets Committee, the City’s Historic Preservation Committee and bike advocates.
A Project Overview Plan showing project limits and scope are shown in Attachment A – the frames shown correlate to the more detailed concept drawings below. Renderings of the concept design are shown in Attachment B and Attachment C. Note, since this project is proposed on a State highway, Caltrans will have to approve of the design – this is not assured, is a lengthy process, and certain features may need to change. We have had initial meetings with Caltrans that indicates general support, but there are many layers of approvals required that cannot be considered until a full design package with necessary backup is submitted, including potential maintenance agreements.
Highlights of the plan include:
- Maricopa Highway separated bike lanes: this concept was originally developed by Caltrans (and remains their concept — see paragraph after bullets below). It entails replacement of one vehicle travel lane in each direction with a separated bike lane (a bike lane separated from travel lanes by a buffer). The buffer from the Y to the High School is painted (a painted buffer space between vehicle travel lane and bike lanes). From the High School to El Roblar it has parking and trees in the buffer area (this stretch has no driveways crossing it) – an alternative developed after the initial outreach effort is to continue a variation of this buffer all the way to the Y. Permeable pavers are proposed for the parking lane, between trees, contingent on budget and Caltrans approval.
- Ojai Avenue bike lanes: Bike lanes from the Y (Route 150/33 intersection) to Gridley Rd., except the downtown area (from Ventura St to Montgomery) where there is only room for sharrows (bikes sharing lanes with vehicle travel lanes).
- High visibility pedestrian crossings: providing curb extensions and pedestrian-activated rapid-flashing LED beacons or RRFBs (like the existing Library crossing at Ventura Street) to improve the safety of most non-signalized crossings. Curb extensions reduce the time/distance a pedestrian is exposed to traffic and possible injury, and provide a pocket to move signage and the RRFBs further into the roadway making the crossing more visible, and squeeze the roadway to a narrower width to calm/slow traffic.
- A modified entry from Ojai Avenue westbound onto El Paseo Road (between Canada Street and Cluff Vista Park) — to improve safety where pedestrians cannot tell if eastbound Ojai Avenue traffic is going to come straight up El Paseo. The rendering in Attachment B shows this concept.
- Sidewalk Infill: installing sidewalks on Ojai Avenue where they do not exist, primarily from the Y to Topa Topa Drive on the south side, and from Shady Lane to Gridley Road.
- Parking: adding parallel parking on the north side of Ojai Avenue between Canada and Ventura Streets to provide storefront parking and provide a buffer between pedestrians and Ojai Avenue
- Trees: placing trees in areas where gaps exist to provide shaded sidewalks and an attractive street corridor.
Caltrans has begun planning a road overlay which covers the same area as the ATP Project (El Roblar to Gridley). They plan to construct it in approximately the same schedule as the ATP project, with coordination to assure any restriping done in the ATP project is not soon thereafter overlayed by the Caltrans project . Their project also proposes bike lanes as well as upgrading adjacent corner curb ramps to current ADA standards which may help reduce costs of the ATP Project. Caltrans is also proposing sseparated bike lanes on Maricopa Highway by removing one vehicle travel lane in each direction, the same as the ATP Project.
More detailed Concept Drawings: