The Calaveras Council of Governments is preparing to update three transportation plans in the county and it held two town hall meetings last month to seek input from the community on the subject.
“We want to hear from you tonight,” Jennifer Donlon-Wyant told the crowd of nearly 30 gathered at the San Andreas Town Hall. She’s a senior consultant with Alta Planning and Design – a firm devoted to bicycling and walking design that was hired by CCOG.
The town hall meetings were the first step in an effort to hear from the community on ways to improve the bicycle and pedestrian options available to people in the county.
“We look at it as increasing economic development, in-creasing awareness of bicycle and pedestrian activities in the county and also enhancing those facilities for visitors as well as residents,” said Amber Collins, transportation planner with the CCOG who is project manager for the updates.
The primary goal of the updates is to increase the safety and accessibility of non-motorized transportation op-tions available in the county.
The CCOG is hoping to complete the updates by June, and once that happens, it can begin to solicit endorsement from county and city officials.
“That (endorsement) basically shows the state that we’ve prioritized our projects on a regional basis,” Collins said. “It actually benefits the city (of Angels) and county for their adoption of the plan.”
Once the update is complete and endorsement is received, grant money can be sought to implement changes in the county to make those improvements.
“There’s a new plan called the Active Transportation Program, (which provides) $180 million for Bicycle, Pedestrian and Safe Route to School projects,” explained Melissa Eads, executive director of CCOG. “So we want to be ready.”
The transportation program was signed Sept. 26, 2013, by Gov. Jerry Brown and it consolidates state and federal programs into a single funding arm.
While updates to county bicycle and pedestrian plans are supposed to take place every five years, the last one occurred in 2007. And at that time, the Board of Supervisors opted not to support the effort in a split-decision vote.
“We’ve actually moved forward to seek grant funding since 2007,” Eads said. “However, we really want to move forward (this time) with county staff.”
Two supervisors were present at the San Andreas Town Hall meeting and members of city council were present at the meeting in Angels Camp the following night.
At the San Andreas meeting, some residents were worried that their input would not mean much, since very few projects came to fruition following the 2007 update.
Eads assured that CCOG staffers are taking “a look at the 2007 policies and project list and identifying criteria for moving those projects forward.”
With support from county and city officials, CCOG is confident the updated plans and project lists can become reality.
“The main purpose of the updates is to remain competitive and eligible for state and federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects,” Collins said.
CCOG is continuing its effort to compile public input for another month.
Surveys are available in hard copy at its office at 444 E. St. Charles St. in San Andreas. Residents can also visit walk-andbikecalaveras.org to find the survey and additional information on transportation resources in the county.