Planada meeting geared toward improving areas for pedestrians and cyclists

aibarra@mercedsunstar.comMarch 31, 2014 

— In an attempt to improve walking and cycling conditions for residents, Merced County will hold its second meeting of the “Help Make Planada a Safer Community” initiative tomorrow night at the Planada Community Center.

The initiative aims to propose strategies to ease foot and bicycle transportation for students attending school near Plainsburg Road and State Route 140.

The meeting, scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., will feature a review of the Pedestrian Improvement plans discussed at the initial meeting in November. A professional planning and design team will present the planning solutions they came up with after integrating residents’ input from last fall. An improvement plan would especially benefit students and families who attend Cesar Chavez Middle School.

To attract community input, Merced County teamed up with local organizations that helped spread the word about the initiative. One of the organizations involved is the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program.

According to Claudia Corchado of CCROPP’s Health Services Program, the strategies discussed in the first meeting focused on building safer routes to school, including paved sidewalks and bike lanes. Residents also suggested additional stop signs and making crosswalk lines more noticeable.

Corchado explained that her group’s priority is to promote healthy and active neighborhoods, something that can be made possible with safer roads.

“Sometimes we have students complain that the dirt and rocky roads are difficult to walk through or ride a bike on,” Corchado said. “Being able to walk to school safely would be a great opportunity for children to gain physical activity and be healthier.”

According to Mark Hendrickson, Merced County’s director of Community and Economic Development, the initiative is only in the planning stages. The county plans to apply for additional grants to help bring the ideas to realization. But community engagement must be ensured.

“The community’s involvement will help us compete for funds that can make all of this possible,” said Hendrickson. “We are very excited to work with residents on identifying those projects that would help us create a safer community for our kids.”

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com.

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