“Wabaska Drive is an important Safe Routes to Schools corridor that will connect bike paths on both Voltaire Street and Nimitz Boulevard,” noted Nicole Burgess, City Council District 2's bicycling representative. “We are proposing a separated, safe and comfortable bike path that is feasible with the excessive roadway space. Ultimately, we are hopeful that the improvements will encourage more students and residents to enjoy our city by bike.”
Don Sevrens, a Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) member speaking on his own behalf, believes the project holds much possibility for community improvement. Sevrens noted the project intends to shrink Wabaska to two traffic lanes, add a bike path and landscaped traffic buffer, as well as diagonal parking “to create more spaces for the benefit of merchants and condo residents.”
“We'd like to get SDG&E to add sidewalk along their property (on a safe routes to school street) and landscaping to hide (their) ugly substation once remodeling is finished,” Sevrens said. The Wabaska project also entails improvements to Voltaire Bridge, which is to be remodeled and brought up-to-date and meet current safety standards.
Sevrens noted residents want more done than what the city's proposed. “The ask is for more than the drab concrete base and chain-link fence railing the city wants to do,” he said asking, “Why not something decorative on a key entryway to Point Loma?” Sevrens pointed out the time to fine-tune the project is drawing to a close. “The clock is at 11:45 now, and community advocates are trying to pull off modest railing improvements,” he said adding, “Actual repairs are in the project budget.”
Sevrens noted that, once the city starts resurfacing part of Wabaska, “some steps become less likely or certainly more expensive.” A 'landmark' repaired bridge, Sevrens added, “could jump-start long-planned street trees, decorative lamp posts and more.”
In a sweeping effort to get more children walking and bicycling to schools across America, Congress approved Safe Routes to School initiatives in the early 2000s. From 2005 to 2012, that program provided more than $1 billion in funding in all states to support infrastructure improvements and programming to make it safer for children to walk and bicycle to and from school.
The purposes of Safe Routes to School include enabling and encouraging children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthful and active lifestyle from an early age; and to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
Safe Routes to School funds may be used for the planning, design and construction of projects that will substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school, including sidewalks improvement, traffic calming, speed reduction improvements, street crossings, on-street bicycle facilities, off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities, secure bicycle parking and traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools.
"This can be a win-win for all. With public support it is so easy," said Jon linney, chair of the PCPB.