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City council approves extension request for Bastanchury Road project

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Fullerton City Council voted March 4 to request an extension to the Bastanchury Road widening project, with questions being raised by community members as to whether the street is safe for bicyclists.

The city received roughly $1.81 million of Measure M2 funds to widen a portion of Bastanchury Road, which included adding an extra lane and also restriping both sides of the road. Total cost of the project will be roughly $3.43 million dollars.

Fullerton is requesting an extension from Orange County Transit Authority until 2016 due to delays with the Army Corps of Engineers. A portion of the project lies within the right-of-way of the Army Corps of Engineers. The city submitted plans to them in September 2013 and have not received an answer yet. Council member Jennifer Fitzgerald asked if the city has asked federal representatives to assist the city in getting the approval process moved along.

Resident Jane Rands told the council that she was concerned because the project does not meet standards for California Complete Streets. As a member of the city's Bicycle Users Subcommittee, she asked that the project be referred back to the Bicycle Users Subcommittee while the request is made to Orange County Transit Authority to extend the project.

California Complete Streets became a directive in 2008 and defines a complete street as, "A transportation facility that is planned, designed, operated and maintained to provide safe mobility for all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit vehicles, truckers and motorists... Complete street concepts apply to rural, suburban and urban areas." Cities must show a good faith effort towards Complete Streets if funds for a street project are acquired through the state or federal government.

Council member Jan Flory asked Public Works Director Donald Hoppe if it was possible to even revisit the plans to add a bicycle component.

"Do we even have the right to go back in the plan? I assume there's already a plan on board. Is there a bicycle component to this project?" she asked.

Hoppe said that the sidewalk at the project area, which goes from East Harbor Boulevard to Fairway Isles Drive, will use the sidewalk as a Class 1 shared use bicycle lane. Flory found that a fair compromise, saying that the sidewalks are wide and meandering and did not notice a lot of people on them.

"I ride a bike all the time," Hoppe said. "I'd rather be on the sidewalk than in the street."

Council member Bruce Whitaker agreed with Rands and wanted to "reopen the conversation" during the extension process for the project. He suggested an alternative motion to bring the project back to the committee. Fitzgerald raised concern that doing so may jeopardize funding, to which Hoppe agreed. Whitaker's motion failed 2-3.

The council ended up approving the original motion 4-1, with Whitaker voting against it.

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