Funds Go to Happy Trails

TIMES STAFF WRITER

With the award of nearly $3 million in federal funds, the county's half-built trail system will come about 6.5 miles closer to completion.

Seven bike and pedestrian trail projects were chosen by an advisory panel for the Orange County Transportation Authority out of 15 proposals competing for the non-roadway funds.

Transit board members last week approved a total of $7.3 million in federally funded transportation enhancements, including $4.3 million for landscaping improvements and other projects such as historic preservation.

About $840,000 will go to close a 2.3-mile gap in the regional trail along Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach. The funds will be used together with local dollars to build a separate path from the Huntington Beach border to the San Gabriel River. Currently, bikers have to merge onto busy streets to make the trip, a situation officials say has led to some accidents.

In order to qualify for the money, cities submitting requests had to show they had at least 25% in matching funds to contribute to their project.

Currently about 300 miles of the planned 750-mile system is operational.

"This shows that officials are really thinking about non-motorized transportation and recreation in the county," said Jeff Dickman, chief of trail planning for Orange County. "This is a real boon for residents."

Additional projects to be funded:

* A bicycle bridge at Jeffrey Road and the San Diego Freeway in Irvine: $500,000

* Two miles of the Santiago Creek Trail in Santa Ana and Orange: $445,312

* Three-quarters of a mile of beachfront trail in Huntington Beach between Beach Boulevard and Huntington Street: $500,000

* One mile of twisting trail through Fairview Park in Costa Mesa: $500,000

* Design of a railway crossing on the Vereda Bikeway in San Juan Capistrano near Trabuco Creek: $100,000

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