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Region gets $4.5M for pedestrian, bike paths

Region gets $4.5M for pedestrian, bike paths

The metro region is getting $4.5 million in federal funding to improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities with new and safer routes.

Seven projects chosen for the funding range from a new bicycle boulevard - like Third Street through midtown Tucson - to bridges. The new projects require some local expense, but the federal portion covers the majority of the projects' budgets.

These transportation enhancement grants are a good way to get bicycle and pedestrian projects done when local funding sources are scarce, said Tom Thivener, Tucson's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

"There's very few pots of funds out there for pedestrian and bikeway improvements," he said. "Transportation enhancements have funded a lot of great things across the region."

Funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities isn't easy to come by, even though many people walk or ride here, said Matt Zoll, Pima County's bicycle and pedestrian program director.

"There's much greater demand than there is funding as a whole at the local, state and federal levels," he said. "We have to look at leveraging the additional funding like these enhancements."

The local projects make up about 20 percent of the total federal enhancement grants for projects in Arizona, Zoll said.

Projects and federal grant funding amount:

• Pedestrian bridges in Sells, $822,776: install two pedestrian bridges over the drainage channels along Arizona 86 in Sells.

• Bicycle lanes on Esperanza Boulevard, $287,051: add bicycle lanes, sidewalks, benches and shade on Esperanza Boulevard at the Interstate 19 underpass in Green Valley.

• San Xavier Road pathway, $420,837: add asphalt multiuse pathway on north side of San Xavier Road near I-19 to fill a gap in the pedestrian access there.

• Sabino High School bicycle enhancements, $750,000: add 6-foot-wide bike lanes on about two miles of Harrison Road from north of Catalina Highway to the school and McDonald Park.

• Rillito Riverpath and Camino de la Tierra bicycle enhancements, $750,000: add new bike lanes on Camino de la Tierra from the Cañada del Oro river path north of Ina to the Rillito River.

• Pantano Riverpath improvements, $689,741: add 2,100 feet of multiuse pathway to connect existing paths along Pantano Wash.

• Liberty Bicycle Boulevard, $749,968: add a bicycle boulevard along South Liberty Avenue, with bicycle crossing signals and traffic reduction near 18 schools.

Contact reporter Andrea Kelly at akelly@azstarnet.com or 807-7790.

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