A couple more streets in Fullerton are expected to get repaired – an issue residents have long called on elected officials to address.

But will the repairs take into account bicycle riders? 

Some say residents and state and federal government officials are trying to get people out of the automobile to address climate change concerns.

City council members at their meeting last week decided to move forward with three different road repair projects: State College Boulevard, Brookhurst Road and Ellis Place as well as other city streets.

Two commissioners on the City’s Active Transportation Committee – which reviews policies and projects that affect bicycle travel – say their committee has been left out of the loop.

Anjali Tapadia, chair of the committee, said at Tuesday’s meeting that repairs like these are an opportunity to add bicycle lanes as well as improving pedestrian infrastructure. She called for the committee to have an opportunity to provide input.

“There’s people in our city who fight for recreation and transportation. There’s people who bike in our city, not because they want to, but because they have to. All road users deserve safety,” Tapadia said.

Along with the Active Transportation Committee, the city has the Transportation and Circulation committee as well as the Infrastructure and Natural Resources Advisory committee.

The Infrastructure and Natural Resources Advisory committee reviewed proposed repairs to State College Boulevard as well as other city street improvements, according to a staff report.

Mayor Fred Jung said at the meeting he has asked staff for over a year that the Active Transportation Committee be involved in discussions on road repair but that it has fallen on deaf ears.

“The state is determined to get persons out of their cars and for good reason, if you believe in climate change. So much of the funding that’s attached is attached to multimodal transportation or enhancing bike lanes,” Jung said.

David Grantham, a city principal engineer, said at Tuesday’s meeting there needs to be a more roundtable style discussion with the various committees.

“For example, Associated Road – we’re doing a slightly different design or an updated design for the bike lanes in that stretch of road so although it may not come to the committee directly, I feel that there is internal communication that kind of touches on each of the committees,” he said.

A resident on Zoom, who was identified as CJ, said he is for giving space for bikers to ride as long as they’re not taking up all of the street and it’s the gas tax drivers pay that fund the roads which allows them to get to and from work and make a living. 

Matthew Leslie, a Fullerton resident, said at the meeting that the city investing in bike infrastructure has benefits.

“Bicycle tires don’t tend to tear up asphalt like car tires do so it’s worth the investment to complete safe bicycle infrastructure in any way you want to look at it. Healthwise for the rider, healthwise for not generating air pollution,” he said.

Broken Streets

Fullerton streets plagued by cracks and potholes have long been an eyesore that translates into a bumpy ride for residents.

Current city council members have said it is an issue that has long been neglected by their predecessors.

[Read: How Did Fullerton’s Roads Get So Bad?]

Officials are looking to fix their city streets even after being forced to vote to cut spending by 2.5% in December 2021 to help address a budget deficit.

Fullerton’s financial situation landed them in 15th spot among the top 20 cities most likely to have financial problems in California, according to the state auditor’s office.

Last August however, council members unanimously approved repairs for several different streets in the central and eastern part of the city for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

They were able to do so with help from the $33 million in federal COVID bailout money they received – allocating about $13 million to help address their poor street conditions.

[Read: Some Fullerton Streets Get Long Awaited Repairs]

At last week’s meeting, council members voted to allocate $2.85 million to fix a 1.3 mile stretch of State College Boulevard from Yorba Linda Boulevard to the northerly city limits.

“This is the remaining segment of State College that is in poor condition. Everything else has been done within the last few years,” Grantham said.

The vote also allocated $600,000 for street repairs at seven locations among the city’s slurry seal or pavement treatment project.

The money for the repairs is coming from state funds allocated to cities for road repair and maintenance. Fullerton officials expect this year’s allocation to be close to $3.6 million, according to a staff report.

The same night, council members awarded a close to $500,000 contract to Palp, Inc. for sewer replacement and street repair at Ellis Place near Fullerton High School without discussion.

They also voted to approve a $325,000 contract with All-American Asphalt, based in Corona, to repair Brookhurst Road near the 91 freeway.

The project is in partnership with the City of Anaheim with officials there agreeing to reimburse Fullerton about $152,000 of the total cost. Fullerton will fund the project through their Capital Improvement budget, according to a staff report.

Tapadia, the transportation commissioner, called for better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure near the 91 freeway.

“These are really important thoroughfares because there’s some of the few locations where you can cross from one part of town to the other, going under or over the freeway,” she said.

“However, they’re also really terrifying parts of the road when you’re on a bike or on foot.”

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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