City will seek funding for ‘Complete Street’ status for California Ave., enhanced bike lane for 21st, housing and more

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — While Kern County continues to try to negotiate a harrowing present, Bakersfield city officials are forging ahead toward an better future. One path of note is the Transformative Climate Communities plan, a state-funded undertaking that could make Bakersfield an easier place to live, work and navigate.

At least that’s the plan.

As metro Bakersfield grows in geographic size and population, its housing and transportation challenges increase accordingly — as does its climate footprint. That’s the challenge city officials are seeking to stay ahead of with the TCC plan — a $200,000 undertaking funded in part by the California Department of Conservation and fueled by public feedback — that looks for ways to clean up our air.

Better transportation infrastructure, including bike lanes, affordable housing, urban greening, and workforce development are all part of the plan.

Cecelia Griego, the city’s Economic Development principal planner, is leading the project.

“There’s a lot of focus on housing, there’s a lot of focus on active transportation projects like bike and and pedestrian enhancements, and the like,” she said. “So the city thought this program aligned well with its downtown vision plan. We applied for this funding in the hopes that we can secure capital funds to do these community enhancements.”

So far, six projects check all the boxes. One would turn six-lane California Avenue into a so-called Complete Street — engineered for safer travel for cars, bikes and buses. Another would add a separated bike lane on 21st Street to encourage bicycle commuting in and out of the downtown area.

Two others would target Baker Street with safety improvement for pedestrians and bike lanes in and out of the downtown area. And two more still would develop affordable housing projects on California Avenue and on Baker Street.

Public input from four virtual meetings helped the city develop a comprehensive draft plan — released just last Friday — that officials will use to secure state funding to actually carry out the projects. Other cities have received as much as $30 million from the state agency for similar purposes.

Residents can review the draft plan and watch the four recorded virtual meetings at bakersfieldtccplan.org.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed or halted state funding for projects like these, and justifiably so, but local economic development officials say they’ll be ready when the light turns green again.

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