Thanks to a pair of grants awarded to the city of Scotts Valley by the state and the federal government, local students may have quicker, easier and safer ways to walk to school, as early as the end of 2012.
Glenwood Drive to Siltanen Park
The city was recently approved to receive $450,000 in state-legislated funds through the Safe Routes to School Program to build a pathway for pedestrians and bicycle riders that will connect Siltanen Park with the Glenwood Drive area adjacent to Scotts Valley High School.
The proposed pathway, constructed of concrete or redwood, will be 12 feet wide and about half a mile long, including a footbridge spanning two creek beds, according to Majid Yamin, a civil engineer with the city’s planning department,
The pathway will loosely adhere to the route of a rough footpath that runs from behind the backstop on the Glenwood side of the lower softball diamond at Siltanen Park.
“(The existing) trail is a footpath someone carved,” Yamin said.
The pathway will connect to the planned Shugart Park on the Glenwood side.
“This will serve as a bypass,” Yamin said. “(Students) can reduce their walk significantly.”
As a basis of reference, the distance from Scotts Valley High School to Vine Hill Elementary School by way of Glenwood Drive and Vine Hill School Road is .9 miles, and follows a circuitous route.
The proposed footpath would nearly halve that distance, Yamin said.
Yamin said planners hoped the path would convince more students attending the high school and Vine Hill Elementary School to walk to and from school by providing a faster, more direct route that is separated from vehicle traffic.
“We want it to be safer for them,” Yamin said. “This money is supposed to reduce the walking distance to encourage students to walk.”
The conditions of the grant state that Safe Route to School funds can account for no more than 90 percent of the total cost of the project, so the city of Scotts Valley is contributing $100,000 toward the estimated $550,000 total cost.
Yamin said the city will likely begin a month-long process of seeking public input and concerns in September, followed by environmental studies -- which can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on the presence of endangered species, among other factors.
Vine Hill School Road and Tabor Drive
The city has submitted environmental reviews related to its plans to construct sidewalks along the school side of Tabor Drive, around the corner to Vine Hill School Road in front of Vine Hill Elementary School, and to the entrance of Siltanen Park.
Before the project — estimated to cost about $500,000 — could get started in earnest, Yamin said, Caltrans – who is overseeing the project -- required the city to complete additional environmental studies to show that the sidewalk construction would cause minimal harm to the population of endangered Ohlone tiger beetles in the section of Glenwood Preserve adjacent to Tabor Drive.
“We are working on getting environmental clearance,” Yamin said. “We just finished the environmental report and sent it to Caltrans in early August.”
He added that the city expected a response to the submitted reports before mid-September.
“As soon as we get (Caltrans’ approval), then we can proceed with the engineering and design of (the project),” Yamin said.
The project also calls for the pavement along Tabor to be widened to accommodate bike lanes and disabled people and for the road’s drainage system to be improved.
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission approved the city’s plans to receive a $400,000 grant, part of a larger countywide grant from the federal government’s Surface Transportation Improvement Program.
The city will contribute $100,000 from drainage impact fees and gas tax funds.