Walking to Los Banos Junior High School will be less treacherous thanks to a federal grant.
The city has received a $313,000 federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant that it is using to build sidewalks.
“The grant is to encourage walking and biking,” said Assistant Public Works Director Gary Hutsell. “This came about at the time the school district was talking about having a school at (east) B Street. We noticed a lot of kids walking to the junior high school and high school.”
The Public Works Department is using the money to construct sidewalks south of B Street between Ward and Mercey Springs roads. That area serves the junior high, includes some Pacheco High School students and will be home to an elementary school. The grant consists of $268,776 in federal funds with a $35,901 match from the city.
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Hutsell said the city’s portion is paying for staff time. The city’s funds come from gas tax revenue and other sources that contribute to the street fund.
Construction of the sidewalks is under way and will include markings and accessibility for the disabled. Hutsell said it will be next week before the project is complete.
The Los Banos Unified School District has about 1,600 students at its junior high school on San Luis Street. In June, 7.95 acres north of East B Street, between Las Palmas Street and Place Road, was purchased for an elementary school.
The air quality funding marks the second grant Los Banos has been awarded in the past few months that is being used to make getting to school safer. In July, a federal Safe Routes to School grant for $100,945 was spent on digital signs showing the speed of passing cars. The signs are located on B Street, Place Road and San Luis Street next to Los Banos Junior High School; B Street near R.M. Miano Elementary School; Overland Avenue near Lorena Falasco Elementary School; L Street near Henry Miller Elementary School; and Center Avenue near Our Lady of Fatima School.